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China’s Own Search Engine

China’s government has always been very cautious with the information that is readily accessible to its citizens. With this is mind, Google is testing a mobile version of its own search engine, named “Dragonfly”, specifically following China’s censorship ideals. In 2010, Google removed its search engine in China, reporting that Google “could no longer continue censoring our results”. According to sources, the prototype search engine “will blacklist websites and search engines about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest.” These sources also claim that Google has demonstrated the app to officials from the Chinese government, who must approve all aspects of the site before it is launched in the country.

China is an extremely attractive untapped market for tech companies, with 770 million Internet users as of 2017. It has been difficult for US based businesses to enter the Chinese market because many fear that it would cause Chinese companies to be able to steal their trade secrets. If Google did launch this project it would have to compete with China’s beloved Baidu. However, Baidu’s stock has fallen with news that Google could be entering the Chinese market. Human rights advocates have protested tech companies working with the Chinese government and considering their demands. Last year, Apple faced backlash after they pulled their VPN software from the Chinese app store. Many Chinese citizens used this to get around the “Great Firewall”, China’s censorship software. Google currently has 700 employees in China who “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” Some employees expressed their dissatisfaction with the idea of offering a censored search engine to China. Others argue that avoiding China has not shifted the Chinese governments attitude or brought “any positive change.” Whether or not Dragonfly is launched is still to be seen but its conception questions tech companies international position.


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October 2018