Google’s new Search app: Designed and censored in California, made for China

Google’s new Search app: Designed and censored in California, made for China

Google’s new Search app: Designed and censored in California, made for China

Even if the censored search engine is not approved, Google seems unlikely to cease its efforts to expand into more and more corners of the Chinese market.

But since 2010, Google's search engine has been actively blocked by the Great Firewall - the Internet filter created by the Chinese government to combat external political influences.

Google programmers and engineers have reportedly made an Android app that's already been shown to the Chinese government. The market dwarfs any other, given how many Chinese people are online, and data from that "can be used to advance products, especially those relating to artificial intelligence", person close to the development said.

The project codenamed Dragonfly is claimed to have been underway since early previous year, with acceleration seen during the last couple of months, courtesy high-level meetings between Sundar Pichai and "a top Chinese government official".

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.

When you search for Liu's name, or his wife's name on the Chinese internet, all you get to see are bits and pieces of news and heavily critical editorials on how Liu's victimhood was misused by the West to demonise the Communist government. In the first half of 2018, China's national internet regulator shut down or revoked the license of more than 3000 websites. Google's plans to release an app that complies with this philosophy raises questions over whether the company is just doing business within the confines of the market or being complicit in oppression.

The Android app could launch in six to nine months as part of a joint venture with an unnamed partner company, likely in China. "But we don't comment on speculation about future plans", said Taj Meadows, a Google spokesman.

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According to the Intercept, the app will automatically pick up on and block websites on Beijing's blacklist, known as the Great Firewall.

In March 2010, it announced it had stopped running the censored service and began routing its Chinese users to an uncensored version of Google based in Hong Kong. Google's search engine and other services are in the same predicament.

Patrick Poon, a China researcher at Amnesty International, said the move puts money before human rights: "It will be a dark day for internet freedom if Google has acquiesced to China's extreme censorship rules to gain market access". The biggest search engine in the world obeying the censorship in China is a victory for the Chinese government - it sends a signal that nobody will bother to challenge the censorship any more.

The initiative would represent the first time in nearly a decade that Google has operated its search engine in the country, whose Great Firewall now blocks its service.

While there is no guarantee that Google will return to China, the company has not denied the veracity of the reports.

There's strict censorship of popular Western sites, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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