Google is set to launch a new version of its eponymous search engine created to conform with China's censorship rules.
Google hasn't had a search engine in China in eight years.
Once the app is completed, if Google believes the product excels China's current leading search engine, Baidu, and it gets approved by China's government, Dragonfly would be the US search giant's biggest step in the Chinese market. The company also complained at the time of hacking attacks that appeared to come from China.
The revelation comes from leaked internal Google documents which The Intercept accessed; the project has been underway since 2017 and was accelerated following Google CEO Sundar Pichai meeting with a top Chinese government official.
Google responded to the report in a statement to The Verge saying, "we don't comment on speculation about future plans".
"Don't Be Evil, unless it's worth untold new riches", wroteMother Jones national affairs editor Mark Follman in response to Gallagher's reporting, referencing Google's longstanding unofficial motto.
If (when?) Dragonfly does launch, expect Google to tell us why it took the decision to so, but don't expect any compromises to have been made by China. It has reportedly been demonstrated to the Chinese authorities and might see a commercial launch within the next six to nine months.
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Google's main search platform is blocked in China along with its video platform YouTube, but it has been attempting to make new inroads into China. As per The Intercept's findings, Google's few hundred engineers and programmers have formulated a custom Android app that might have different versions, codenamed "Maotai" and "Longfei". In March 2010, the Mountain View-based company stopped censoring materials in China, by redirecting its Chinese page to the Hong Kong domain which returned uncensored results.
There were an estimated 772 million internet users in China as of the end of a year ago, with internet availability sitting at only 55.8 percent of the population.
According to a report from The Intercept published on Wednesday, the world's largest search engine has been working for more than a year with officials in Beijing to launch a new product to reach China's netizens.
Google did operate in the country from 2006 to 2010, when it also agreed to the local censorship laws, facing harsh criticism from United States officials.
China already has well-developed Google alternatives, most notably Baidu, a company that has thrived without having to worry about the Silicon Valley giant as a competitor.
China's internet censorship laws are well-known. "They won't help Department of Defense keep us safe but they will help China suppress the truth?"
Search engines - one of the most important things in the world in this day and age - thus, serve no goal in China.
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