Google is apparently building a censored version of the search engine to be released in China. China has been resorting to putting U.S. tech companies like Facebook Inc., Qualcomm Inc., and Apple Inc. under increased scrutiny when it comes to business deals, as trade disputes continue to persist between the two nations. Amidst such rising tensions, Alphabet Inc.’s chief subsidiary is preparing to a comeback to the market they had quit eight years ago, because of Google China censorship issues. Sources say that they plan on blocking several websites as well as search terms in order to achieve this goal.
In 2010, Google had left China’s search engine market, where regulators have a lot of their products and services blocked, including its video platform YouTube, but they have shown their keen interest in making a return to the scene ever since.
On Wednesday, the Intercept cited Google’s internal documents and sources to report on Google’s future plans about it. Apparently, this project, codenamed “Dragonfly”, has been in progress since the first half of 2017, as the news portal reports on its website. It picked up its pace after Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official met in December.
Among the blacklisted search terms will be those related to human rights, religion, democracy, and protests, as proposed to the Chinese government. Although approval is still pending, the final Google censored search engine version is expected to be launched within nine months.
However, according to the Chinese Securities Times, the reports about Google re-entering the Chinese market were false. Yet a Google employee has confirmed to Reuters that the project is very much real.
Another Chinese official, well-informed on the plans, says that Google has been in touch with the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) authorities, for a modified search program, but it currently remains unapproved, with little chances of being available this year.
Google has refused to comment on any of the accounts but has only mentioned its strong domestic presence in the country. But U.S.-listed Baidu, presently the leading search engine in China, faced a 7.7 percent decline in shares after the report on Wednesday, although it had great quarterly results.
Meanwhile, Google made an investment in China’s mobile game live-streaming platform, Chushou, in January, and launched a new AI game on Chinese messaging app WeChat, this month.
These reports have resulted in a lot of positive and negative reactions and debates on Chinese social media sites on the advantages and disadvantages of a Google censored search engine and whether accessing the U.S. version illegally is a better choice.