Google employees mad over reported plans for censored China search engine

Google employees mad over reported plans for censored China search engine

One of the largest and fastest-growing Internet audiences in the world, China is tempting for US technology companies such as Google and Facebook, which have been making overtures to Beijing. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all.

Fast forward eight years, and Chinese internet companies are some of the largest on the planet, with much of their success forged on an uneven home playing field on which western companies have been unable to compete.

Sen. Tom Cotton released a statement on Thursday that slammed Google's decision to launch a search engine in China that will comply with China's censorship demands.

In early 2010, Google closed up shop in mainland China after rows over censorship and hacking.

The Intercept also reports that Google CEO Sundar Pichai met with a senior Chinese government official in December a year ago and the government has been shown the service and Android app working.

The custom Android app will blacklist websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion and peaceful protest. The (successful) refusal of Google staff to work for the U.S. military has proved that workers have a say in the company's future.

"Google is waking up to smell the coffee", said Andy Mok, founder and president of Beijing-based consultancy Red Pagoda Resources LLC. And it looks like at least one Google employee familiar with the plans related to China is willing to speak up.

The Chinese government, meanwhile, has denied its reports of draconian censorship to a certain degree.

The state-owned China Securities Daily, however, refuted the report on Google's Search engine for China.




According to internal documents, acquired by The Intercept, the final version could be launched in the next six to nine months, pending approval from the Chinese government.

If Google does make the jump to the Chinese market, it'll be competing with Baidu, the entrenched local search engine. The tech giant has reportedly created an Android app catering to the country's censorship laws, different versions of which are called "Maotai" and "Longfei".

"While removing search results is inconsistent with Google's mission, providing no information (or a heavily degraded user experience that amounts to no information) is more inconsistent with our mission", Google said at the time.

While going to Google to search for virtually anything is a common practice for many of us, the same isn't true for people in China.

"Google has been working on the app since previous year and had been meeting with Chinese regulators to discuss the project", said the report, citing sources.

"WTF!" Google researcher Meredith Whittaker wrote on Twitter, describing the company's move as "enabling mass politically-directed censorship of (AI-enabled) search".

The Great Firewall of China serves two purposes: first, to prevent people in China accessing information that the Communist Party of China doesn't want them to see; and second, to lock up the fast-growing market of 1.4 billion people so that Chinese companies, controlled by China's elites, can build major online businesses unencumbered by foreign competition.

Last month, the senator criticized USA airlines for acquiescing to the Chinese government's demands that they remove references to Taiwan from their websites.

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