The internet giant Google is working on a censored search engine for China to meet the demands of the Chinese government.
The US tech giant wants to return to the world’s biggest single market for internet users after shutting down its Chinese search engine in 2010. Then it stated that the government was attempting to ‘limit free speech on the web’.
The project began in early 2017 and the censored search engine is being developed under the codename Dragonfly.
The web is heavily censored in China. Topics like religion, police brutality and freedom of speech are either filtered or completely censored. Censorship has increased under President Xi Jinping and now includes not only the web but also social media and chat apps.
Amnesty International doesn’t support Google’s decision to play by the Chinese market rules. It called the move a ‘dark day for internet freedom’ and said it would constitute ‘a gross attack on freedom of information and internet freedom’.
Patrick Poon, a researcher with Amnesty International, told Intercept: ‘The biggest search engine in the world obeying censorship in China is a victory for the Chinese government. It sends a signal that nobody will bother to challenge censorship any more.’
The project is also unpopular among Google’s employees. Some who were asked to work on it declined, opting to transfer to different work or to quit the company.
Why is Google returning to a market it once left? Is the tech giant paving the way for other American tech companies to penetrate the Chinese market? Or does it want to grow even bigger – even if that means doing so at the expense of its own rules and values?
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