Lots of people don't know this, but Google is actually banned in China. Not just Google Search, by the way. Name it and it's blocked — Maps, Gmail, Docs, Drive, everything — and China doesn't seem to be easing up its policies anytime soon.
So, it's up to Google to compromise, and it will. According to new reports, the Mountain View, California company is getting ready to make inroads into China by virtue of a search engine that complies with the country's censorship policies. In other words, it's developing a search app that will block certain sites and information from surfacing.
Google Reportedly Working On Google Search App That'll Censor Certain Results
Google originally shut down Search operations in China back in 2010, citing government attempts to "limit free speech on the web." A report from The Intercept suggests Google has turned a corner in that department, and that it now wants a triumphant return to China, which is possibly the largest single market for internet users in the world.
The Intercept got hold of internal documents from a whistleblower, and they reveal that Google has been working on this search engine since last year, codenamed "Dragonfly."
The engine will be built as an Android app and will allegedly "blacklist sensitive queries" and filter out websites that are blocked by the Chinese government, including Wikipedia and many others. All components of Search, including image search, spell check, and suggestions, will also be affected by censorship.
Chinese internet is severely censored by the government, although many clever users turn to alternative methods, such as VPNs, in order to bypass such policies and access products and services that would otherwise be banned in the country. There's a nickname for China's aggressive censorship tactics: the Great Firewall of China. Information about certain topics, including religion, freedom of speech, police brutality, and democracy, are heavily filtered. Some highly sensitive topics, such as the Tiananmen Square protests, are blocked entirely as if they never happened.
What Might Happen If Google Gives In To China's Censorship Laws
The reason why the whistleblower provided the said internal documents to The Intercept is because they were "against large companies and governments collaborating in the oppression of their people." They added that "what is done in China will become a template for many other nations."
Not only that, but suppose Google goes through with such plans, it will set a precedent for other companies and convince them to obey China's censorship policies instead of challenging them.
When asked about the search engine in question, this is what a Google spokesperson said:
"[W]e don't comment on speculation about future plans."