Many of Google’s services remain blocked in China. Its core service, Google Search, was shut down by the company in 2010 due to the government’s attempts to “limit free speech on the web,” the company said back then. According to a new report, Google wants to return to China and is developing a censored search engine for the country. The China-specific Google Search will block websites such as Wikipedia and limit access to topics including freedom of speech.
The Intercept has received internal documents from a whistleblower which reveal that Google is developing a censored version of its web browser. The project is codenamed “Dragonfly” and has been ongoing since the beginning of last year.
Google is said to be building it as an Android app which will “blacklist sensitive queries” in addition to filtering out all websites that China’s web censors already block. The same censorship will also be applied to image, spell check, and other related features.
Many are of the view that if Google goes ahead with its plan to launch a censored version of its search engine in China then it will set a bad precedent. Other nations might try to get their own way in the future with Google and other companies even if they’re not the biggest single market for internet users like China is.
When contacted by The Verge for a comment on the report, a spokesperson for Google said that the company doesn’t comment on speculation about future plans. The spokesperson also pointed out that “We provide a number of mobile apps in China, such as Google Translate and Files Go, help Chinese developers, and have made significant investments in Chinese companies like JD.com”