Google is working on a censored version of its search engine in China, which will restrict content related to human rights, democracy, and religion, insiders tell The Intercept. The custom Android app, which has already been shown to Chinese officials, could be launched in the next six to nine months, and work on the project (internally named Dragonfly) has been underway since last spring and sped up after Google CEO Sundar Pichai met with a top Chinese government official in December 2017, reports The Intercept.
The initiative would represent the first time in almost a decade that Google has operated its search engine in the country, whose Great Firewall currently blocks its service. And it is causing friction at the company, which recently saw employees protest its work on Project Maven, a Pentagon program to improve the accuracy of drone strikes. One insider told The Intercept that he has ethical concerns about the project, which is being worked on by only a few hundred employees out of its 88,000-strong workforce. “I’m against large companies and governments collaborating in the oppression of their people, and feel like transparency around what’s being done is in the public interest,” the source told The Intercept, adding that they feared “what is done in China will become a template for many other nations.”
A rep for Google emailed us the following statement which, significantly, didn’t dispute the story’s details:
“We provide a number of mobile apps in China, such as Google Translate and Files Go, help Chinese developers, and have made significant investments in Chinese companies like JD.com. But we don’t comment on speculation about future plans.”
Read the full story here.