Google and China have never quite gotten along and as such remains a territory that Google is yet to conquer with their search engine. Reports today from The Intercept are that Google are planning to launch a censored version of their search engine into China.
As it currently stands Google cannot be accessed by most users in China due to the Great Firewall blocking it. Google are looking to launch into China with an app that will follow all of China’s censorship laws.
The project codenamed Dragonfly will censor out sites about human rights, democracy, religion and peaceful protest. It has been in the pipeline since last year and after Sundar Pichai met with top Chinese Government officials the project has been fast tracked.
The search engine at this stage is a custom Android app and once it has garnered approval from the Chinese government will be launched in the next six to nine months.
The censorship will not just remove some banned results and websites from the results page but will also display a message stating that:
some results may have been removed due to statutory requirements.
The Intercept have seen documents that suggest that some examples of the sites censored will include both the BBC and Wikipedia. Some searches will also result in no result at all being shown. The censorship will apply across the entire Android platform — image search, spell check and suggested search features.
All is not well inside Google regarding the project apparently. The Intercept’s source stated their moral and ethical concerns about Google’s role in the censorship by the Chinese government.
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…..(and they fear that) what is done in China will become a template for many other nationsThe Intercept’s source
At this stage, in the current climate of trade sanctions, it is unclear when Google will gain approval to launch their new Chinese search app into China. Before launching Google also want to make it so that it is better than the current search engine in China provided by Baidu.
It will be interesting to see what happens but with Chinese manufacturers filling three of the top five spots in the smartphone manufacturing in the second quarter of this year you can be sure it is a market that Google want to crack.