Google working on censorship-ready search for China

04 August, 2018, 17:50 | Author: Larry Hoffman
  • Report: Google's Plan to Launch Censored Search Engine in China Revealed

One of the largest and fastest-growing Internet audiences in the world, China is tempting for USA technology companies such as Google and Facebook, which have been making overtures to Beijing.

NGOs have criticised Google's reported plan to develop a censored version of its search engine in China, calling it an attack on internet freedom.

Google is planning to launch a censored version of its search engine in China that will blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest, reported The Intercept.

California-based Google would also face stiff competition from China's Baidu - though stock in that company fell Wednesday on news of Google's possible return.

Global tech giant Google is developing a new search engine for China that will be in line with the country's stringent censorship rules, according to a report by The Intercept.

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Google has had quite the roller coaster ride with China.

Despite pulling its search engine in 2010, Google now has more than 700 employees in China, according to the Times. Progress picked up following a meeting in December between a top government official of Beijing and Google's CEO Sundar Pichai.

Depending on when the Chinese government approves the "toned down" Google, the app could launch anytime in the next 6-9 months.

Amnesty International researcher Patrick Poon told The Intercept that Google working with the Chinese government sets a "terrible precedent" for other international companies, calling the development of the search engine "a big disaster for the information age". It added the search engine had already been demonstrated to Chinese government officials.

Other analysts cited China's "long memory" of past criticism from Google executives, the Wall Street Journal says (paywall).

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The company finally agreed to remove some content from serving up in the search results on google.cn to adhere to local law and continue operating in China. Back in 2010, when Google exited China, the company co-founder Sergey Brin said "with respect to censorship, with respect to surveillance of dissidents, I see the same earmarks of totalitarianism, and I find that personally quite troubling".

The app would censor search queries and results in compliance with China's Golden Shield Project, better known in the West at the Great Firewall of China.

"Google has been working on the app since a year ago and had been meeting with Chinese regulators to discuss the project", said the report, citing sources.

China's internet censorship laws are well-known.

That Google would not care for civic duties - in this instance not just censoring information and knowledge, but also censoring ideological differences and news of human rights violations - is not hard to imagine.

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There were an estimated 772 million internet users in China as of the end of previous year, with internet availability sitting at only 55.8 percent of the population. Unlike many online publications, we don't have a paywall or run banner advertising, because we want to keep our journalism open, without influence or the need to chase traffic. Companies need a great deal of resources to meet the censorship demands imposed by the government, and failing to do so can be serious.

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