Sundar Pichai: Google 'exploring' censored China search app

The 'Dragonfly' search engine project Background

Google says it 'internally tested' censored China search engine

Google CEO Sundar Pichai says it is important to re-enter China by providing more relevant search queries though he did not provide a time frame for the launch.

Until now, Google has remained tight-lipped on the so-called "Dragonfly" project, but Pichai openly confirmed the search engine's existence at the Wired 25 Summit and, told the audience that its development is going "very well". Furthermore, users receive better information than what's now available on the Chinese market, such as when searching for cancer treatments, Pichai said. "But we also follow the rule of law in every country", he said.

Pichai also said that even though it recently announced that would not bid for a $10 billion US Department of Defence cloud contract, the firm remains open to work with the Department of Defence.

In September, Google reportedly developed a prototype of "Dragonfly" that linked users' search history to their personal phone numbers allowing security agencies to easily track users seeking out information banned by the government. "Today, people either get fake cancer treatments or they actually get useful information". Pichai described it as being important for us to explore more.

With China representing 20% of the world's population, Pichai said they believed it was important to explore the option of providing Google's services in the country. "China will teach us things that we don't know", Gomes said. Organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders wrote to CEO Pichai that complying with Chinese censorship would represent "an alarming capitulation by Google on human rights". Employees demanded that the company be more transparent about its decisions, and the letter also calls the project's ethics into question. Privacy pundits have expressed concern that a censored search engine from Google would in fact suppress freedom of expression and give the country's government a means of spying on its citizens.

CNN host Jake Tapper censored the word "don't" out of Google's former unofficial motto "don't be evil" to illustrate the implications of the move. "If Google were to operate in China, what would it look like?"

Along with former Google Senior Scientist Jack Poulson, several other employees have resigned from the company citing lack of corporate transparency after the it revealed its efforts about "Dragonfly".

Google had a search engine in China from 2006 to 2010. According to reports, the censored search engine would block search terms and sites in accordance with the requirements of the Chinese government, but this has been largely speculation.

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