Google tailoring a search engine for China

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Google co-founder Sergey Brin, whose parents brought him to the escape communist Russian Federation, led a dramatic exit from mainland China in 2010 after the company refused to self-censor search content. Brin has stepped back from day-to-day operations and the internet giant is now run by Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai.

The plan, which was criticized by human rights advocates, comes as China has stepped up scrutiny of business dealings involving U.S. tech firms including Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and Qualcomm Inc amid intensifying trade tensions between Beijing and Washington.

According to The Intercept's Ryan Gallagher, who first reported on the tech giant's plans on Wednesday, "The project-code-named Dragonfly-has been underway since spring of past year, and accelerated following a December 2017 meeting between Google's CEO Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official".

"Documents seen by The Intercept, marked 'Google confidential, ' say that Google's Chinese search app will automatically identify and filter websites blocked by the Great Firewall". "How enabling mass politically-directed censorship of (AI-enabled) search isn't a violation of Article 19 & in turn a violation of Google's pledge not to build tech that "contravenes widely accepted principles of.human rights" is a mystery indeed". China is already censoring Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Google's main search platform is blocked in China along with its video platform YouTube, but it has been attempting to make new inroads into China.

Reuters is citing a China Securities Daily report that debunks the rumors of Google returning to China.

The reports have prompted major concern among free speech and human rights activists, who fear that if Google were to return to China, having pulled its search engine from the country in 2010, it would be a regressive step given the country's extensive system of censorship.

In addition to censoring sites such as the BBC, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Wikipedia, the Chinese authorities also censor mentions of books that portray governments like China's in a poor light, such as 1984 and Animal Farm. The Chinese government has some strict rules about internet access in their country and project Dragonfly is being made to address those rules. "But we don't comment on speculation about future plans", a person aware of the matter told TechCrunch.

The desktop version of Google's search website is now unavailable to many Internet users within China.

Although the new search engine is not guaranteed to be approved, the report pummeled Baidu shares.

"This also raises serious questions as to what safeguards Google is putting in place to protect users' privacy", he said. Most are based at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, though others are reportedly spread out across the United States.

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