Google has been condemned for supporting state censorship following reports that the company is working on a mobile search app that would block certain search terms and allow it to reenter the Chinese market.
Chinese human rights groups criticize internet company for reportedly designing software that would leave out blacklisted content. Its search engine planned for China will block websites and certain search terms the country’s government objects to, a new report said Wednesday.
The New York Post reports,
The hush-hush project is code-named “Dragonfly” and has been underway since the spring of 2017, according to The Intercept, which first reported the story, citing internal Google documents and sources familiar with the plans.
Search terms about human rights, democracy, religion and peaceful protests would be among the words blacklisted in the search engine app, the report said. It would also block sites like the BBC and Wikipedia.
The censorship would be embedded in image searches, spell check and even suggested searches.
That means Google can’t point people to potentially “sensitive” terms or photographs banned by the government.
According to the report, a few hundred people within Google are aware of the Dragonfly project, with one whistleblower speaking out because of ethical concerns, Business Insider reported.
Most of the work is being conducted out of Google’s Mountain View headquarters in California.
Amnesty International slammed the censorship, The New York Times reported.
The human rights group said it would be a “dark day for internet freedom” and would constitute “a gross attack on freedom of information and internet freedom” if the tech giant accepted China’s censorship terms.
The Chinese version had already been demonstrated to Chinese government officials, who keep a tight lid on a wide variety of information, especially if it’s critical of the government.
Progress on the project — which would end Google’s eight-year boycott of the communist country over complaints about censorship — picked up after a December meeting between Google’s chief executive Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official.
The final version could be launched in the next six to nine months, pending approval from Chinese officials, it added.
A Google spokeswoman told Business Insider that the company was already doing business with the Chinese.
“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. But we don’t comment on speculation about future plans,” the spokesman said.
Continue reading at The New York Post