Google employees uncover ongoing work on censored China search – The Intercept

What happened: Google employees have identified ongoing work on a batch of code associated with the company’s controversial project aimed at developing a censored search engine for China, despite management moving engineers away from the project last year. The group of employees launched an investigation in response to a dissatisfying a lack of communication from the search giant’s leadership about the project.

Why it’s important: Dubbed Dragonfly, the project was subject to outcry last year as employees expressed concern that the Chinese government would require Google to censor search results should the company choose to launch the search engine. Following complaints from Google’s privacy team, developers lost access to data from Beijing-based website 265.com, which they were using to learn about Chinese search habits and develop blacklists to comply with Chinese regulations, effectively ending the project. Despite this, the allure of the Chinese market has seemingly continued to woo Google executives including CEO Sundar Pichai, who in December claimed before US lawmakers that the company was exploring the idea, though it had no plans to relaunch its search business in China.

Christopher Udemans is a Shanghai-based technology reporter. He covers Chinese artificial intelligence, mobility, and cybersecurity. You can contact him at chrisudemans [at] technode [dot] com. More by Chris Udemans

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