‘A dark day for internet freedom’: Google under fire over reported plans to launch a censored search engine in China

Wednesday, August 1, 2018
By Paul Martin

Google is reportedly planning to launch a censored search engine in China
Project is being referred to internally as ‘Dragonfly,’ according to the Intercept
The app would block terms like human rights, peaceful protest and democracy
If approved by Chinese officials, it could launch in the next six to nine months

1 August 2018

Google is reportedly going to launch a censored version of its search engine in China.

The tech giant has been secretly planning to launch the product since last year, as part of a project referred to inside the company as ‘Dragonfly,’ according to The Intercept, which was given internal documents from a whistleblower.

It comes as Google has tried and failed to make inroads in the Chinese market over the past several years.

Google’s search engine, Gmail and YouTube have all been blocked from access in the region since 2010, when federal regulators, often referred to as China’s ‘Great Firewall,’ shut down more than 1.3 million websites.

Development of the search engine sped up after Google CEO Sundar Pichai met with a top Chinese government official in December 2017, the Intercept noted.

Programmers and engineers at the company have created several versions of an Android app, called ‘Maotai’ and ‘Longfei,’ one of which has been presented to the Chinese government.

Should it be approved by government officials, a final version could be launched as soon as the next six to nine months.

The app would have to comply with China’s rigid censorship laws, which would mean restricting access to content that government officials consider unfavorable, the Information said.

Search terms about human rights, democracy, religion and peaceful protests will be blocked from the app.

When someone uses the search engine, banned websites won’t be included in the first page of search results, with websites like BBC and Wikipedia part of a list of banned sites.

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