Google shares fall as CEO confirms ‘Project Dragonfly’

Isaac Cain
October 18, 2018

Google's hardly the only tech company that plays footsie with China's totalitarian regime.

On Monday, during an event hosted by Wired, Google CEO Sundar Pichai publicly announced that work was well underway on a project dubbed "Dragonfly", a version of the search engine that would be acceptable to the Chinese government.

Pichai said that by offering a search engine in China again, Google would be able to provide some 800 million users with better information than what is available on important subjects, such as cancer treatments. He said that the company is "exploring" the idea, and pointed out that 99 percent of searches would not be censored.

"Dragonfly" is a rumoured effort inside Google to develop a search engine for China that would censor certain terms and news outlets, among other things.

He was also quick to defend the project, which human rights groups have suggested will likely to be complicit in human rights violations and would allow for far more detailed tracking and profiling of people's behaviour.

"It's very early, we don't know whether we would or could do this in China but we felt like it was important for us to explore".

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Google has been providing its browsing services and affiliated applications across the world, but, surprisingly, Google has not occupied the Chinese Market as of yet. According to Pichai, more than 99 percent of queries will still be presented without blocking specific results.

Google has been planning for a long time to emerge on the Chinese market with a search engine specially designed for the Asian country. Google's Keith Enright told the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on September 26th that there "is a Project Dragonfly", but said, "we are not close to launching a product in China".

But this initiative has sparked debate over Google's corporate values.

'Today people either get fake cancer treatments or they actually get useful information, ' he said. The team wanted to explore more as they understand that the market and users will take a long-term view. While this extends to freedom of expression and general access to information in most countries, Google still must "follow the rule of law in every country" it enters.

The project, code-named Dragonfly, is not only real but is already performing to the satisfaction of top Google executives.

"I was compelled to resign my position on August 31, 2018, in the wake of a pattern of unethical and unaccountable decision making from company leadership", Poulson mentioned in his resignation letter.

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