Published: Thu, August 02, 2018
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Chinese media denies reports of Google's return to country

Chinese media denies reports of Google's return to country

Dubbed as Project Dragonfly, it has been in the works since spring of past year.

Google is planning to launch a censored search engine in China?

The app, which has been called Maotai and Longfei at different stages in development, has been demonstrated to Chinese officials, and could release in the next six to nine months.

It certainly makes financial sense for Google to want a piece of the Chinese market in a more direct fashion, but its previous policy of "Don't Be Evil" may have been completely forgotten for this project.

China's so-called Great Firewall now blocks access to Google's search engine for most internet users, and the move reportedly in the works would mark a large change in Google's policy towards the word's most populous nation.

Separately, a Chinese official with knowledge of the plans said that Google has been in contact with authorities at the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) about a modified search program.

Reports that Alphabet Inc's Google may return to the Chinese market are not true, state-owned China Securities Daily reported on Thursday, citing information from "relevant departments". Most of its services are blocked, including Gmail and the Google Play app store.

A Google spokeswoman said on Wednesday that the company "does not comment on speculation about future plans".

Still, China has the world's second-largest economy with a huge and fast-growing population of Internet users. There are a lot of countries that would gladly pay a pretty penny to censor the internet in their region.

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Shares in Baidu, which reported better-than-expected results a day earlier, slumped as much as 8 per cent on Wednesday.

This has very serious implications not just for China, but for all of us, for freedom of information and internet freedom.

That means Google can't point people to potentially "sensitive" terms or photographs banned by the government. It said the project began to progress more quickly following a December meeting between Google CEO Sundar Pichai and a senior Chinese government official.

Other publications followed The Intercept and confirmed the report.

The company has been slowly entering the Chinese market by launching its Translate app in China and opening an AI research lab in Beijing during 2017.

Google's new app would automatically identify and filter content blocked by the firewall.

The company withdrew from providing search tools to the Chinese market in 2010, and its worldwide search engine is blocked by the country's so-called "Great Firewall". Facing heat from activists and even the US government, Google eventually ended the product.

Censorship is set to continue indefinitely within China and seems to be getting more pervasive every year.

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