To tap China’s 750 million web users, search engine behemoth Google is planning to launch a censored version of its search engine in the most populated country of the world.
The project is code-named Dragonfly. It has been underway since last year according to the Intercept report which also claimed to have seen the Google confidential document.
The Android versions of the app have already shown to the Chinese government. The project still awaits final approval from the Chinese government. The final version of the app would be launched in next 6-9 months.
The app, which is said to be better than its Chinese rival Baidu, will comply with the country’s strict censorship laws. It will automatically identify and filter websites blocked by the Great Firewall. When a person carries out a search, banned websites will be removed from the first page of results, added the report.
The web is heavily censored in China. China’s Great Firewall acts as a blocking agent to stop citizens from accessing many sites including Google. Facebook and Instagram, Youtube, Twitter and Gmail are all blocked in China.
Information on topics like religion, police brutality, freedom of speech, and democracy are filtered, while specific search topics (like the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and Taiwanese independence) are censored completely. China was globally criticised for heavy censorship when Nobel Peace Prize-winner Liu Xiaobo died. China blocked social media posts and even private messages and group chats about the death of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
In 2010, Google shut down its Chinese search engine, citing attempts to limit free speech on the web by the Chinese government.
However, in the last few months, the company has been attempting to return to the world’s biggest single market for internet users and reintegrate itself into the Chinese commercial market. In December 2017, it launched an AI research lab in Beijing and an AI-powered doodle game in July.
Meanwhile, industry experts have criticised Google attitude for obeying the censorship by the Chinese government.