Briefing: Google CEO publicly acknowledges plans for Chinese search engine

1 min read

Google CEO says China search engine would serve 99 percent of queries, takes a swipe at Baidu – SCMP

What happened: Google CEO Sundar Pichai publicly addressed the company’s plan to re-enter China with search and news products for the first time. Speaking at Wired’s 25th-anniversary summit in San Francisco, Pichai said that the company would be able to service 99 percent of all queries. He said China is an important market for the search giant given its size and took a swipe at Baidu by saying Google could compete with local players.

Why it’s important: Project Dragonfly, the codename for the proposed filtered version of Google’s search engine specifically engineered for use in China, has caused protests both inside and outside the company. Google tried to suppress an internal memo written by an employee that detailed how some aspects of the service would work. Google now seems to be framing the move as an opportunity for information sharing, with Pichai telling US lawmakers that it “would have broad benefits inside and outside China.” However, the extent of what is being shared is the problem—the search engine reportedly requires users to log in to perform searches, keeps track of their location, and then relays the data to a local party with “unilateral” access to it.