Whistleblower reveals Google plans for censored search in China

Isaac Cain
August 4, 2018

Citing "relevant authorities", the state-owned China Securities Daily said reports suggesting that Google was returning to the Chinese market "do not conform to reality". Senators reassure allies on North Atlantic Treaty Organisation support Dem senators introduce resolution calling on Trump to stop attacking the press Senate panel advances Trump's pick to be deputy Treasury secretary MORE (D-Ore.) also warned in a tweet that "Google would be making a disgusting mistake" if it moved to launch a censored search engine in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all.

The move would mark an abrupt about-face by the Alphabet Inc. unit and a win for China's communist government, which suppresses free speech online. Pichai has publicly stated he was eager for Google to start operating in China.

Others questioned whether a heavily censored Google might be useful. But they said that it was unclear at this point if the app would be launched - partly because of the negative publicity surrounding the Intercept's story and partly due to the ongoing tensions between Washington and Beijing over trade.

Afterall, how can a company turn a blind eye to the 700 million internet users living in China and the potential revenue loss by not able to make money out of their pockets?

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Chief executive Sundar Pichai was quite clear about his ambitions when he told a conference in 2016: "Google is for everyone - we want to be in China serving Chinese users". Google engineers have built two different versions of the search engine Android app and will likely be launched in six to nine months after government approval.

Plans for Google's censored search product aren't completed and it may never come to fruition, the person said. Following the meeting, Google announced an AI research center in Beijing and later released a file management app and sketch game for China's growing internet-using population. Google has been making a series of strategic investments into Chinese businesses as a way to indirectly gain access to one of the world's largest markets, but now may be taking a more direct approach. Google is reportedly developing an Android app that will bring its search services back to China, with heavily restrictions on access to content that is deemed unfavourable by the ruling party.

"Google's search service can not now be accessed by most internet users in China because it is blocked by the country's so-called Great Firewall".

If reports are accurate, it would not be the first time the internet giant censored its search results in China. Co-founder Sergey Brin specifically cited totalitarian governments when pulling the Chinese service, though the company had said in 2006 that "removing search results" was better than "providing no information", per CNN. Lastly, Google bowning down to the Chinese government is a huge win for the latter as it sets a precedent for smaller companies not to challenge censorship in China.

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