How Google reversed its course on opposition to censorship in China


The Intercept wrote on Wednesday that United States search giant Google is planning to re-enter the Chinese market with a censored version of a search engine, citing U.S. government sources and documents.

The company finally agreed to remove some content from serving up in the search results on to adhere to local law and continue operating in China. The Information reports (paywall) that a competitor to AI-powered news app Toutiao has also been under development by Google "since a year ago", and that, of course, it would "comply with the country's strict censorship laws".

"There's a huge void, Google can fill that void", said Tian, who is now CEO of Asia Innovations.

Google said in response to a request for comment that it doesn't "comment on speculation about future plans".

But that wasn't always the case.

Google is set to launch a new version of its eponymous search engine created to conform with China's censorship rules. It complied with Beijing's censorship laws.

Blacklisted information will automatically be removed before the user is served up the results of their search.

One of those principles is freedom of expression, so if it does go ahead with a censored search engine for China it can expect plenty of pushback, not only from civil liberties groups but from its own staff. "They won't help ⁦Department of Defense⁩ keep us safe but they will help China suppress the truth?"

"For the world's biggest search engine to adopt such extreme measures would be a gross attack on freedom of information and internet freedom".

This wouldn't be the first time Google has operated in China.

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Google was battling Baidu (BIDU) for market share.

But the company still employs 700 people in three offices in China working on other projects.

When Google pulled out of China in 2010, co-founder Sergey Brin voiced strong objections to any form of censorship having been born in the Soviet Union. Project Dragonfly by Google is a custom censored search engine that makes oppression easier than ever before.

Google hasn't had a search engine in China in eight years.

Businesses that depended on Google applications such as Google Docs and Gmail also suffered.

Has Google become the very thing they once opposed?

While an app is on the cards, the launch of a desktop version is uncertain for now. By 2014, Google's piece of the pie had shriveled to just over 4%.

Advertising is Google's main source of revenue, and 1.4 billion potential users are hard to ignore. -China trade war - which increasingly centers on technological competition - and that an office in eastern China set up by Facebook was swiftly shut down by central government authorities on July 25. According to MarketWatch, Baidu's stock dropped slightly after The Intercept's report broke. A writer, professor, human rights activist, Nobel Peace Prize victor and dissident, Xiaobo had been an enemy of the Communist regime in China since taking part in the student protests in 1989 - protests that led to the bloody Tiananmen Square Massacre. The Intercept reported that such terms would be censored in the planned app.

- Begona Blanco Munoz contributed reporting.