Google made a fateful decision that it would rather abandon the Chinese market than give in to demands that it censor search results at the direction of Beijing.
Leaked documents to one media outlet suggests Google has been developing a censored version of its search engine dubbed "Dragonfly", so the company can return its services to one of the world's largest markets to compete with Baidu, which now leads in Chinese search.
This file picture taken on March 22, 2010 shows a Chinese flag flying next to the Google company logo outside the former Google China headquarters in Beijing.
The Intercept has internal documents from a whistleblower that show Google has developed the censored version, codenamed Dragonfly, since early previous year.
Google is planning to release a censored version of its search app in China, according to a report from The Intercept. The (successful) refusal of Google staff to work for the United States military has proved that workers have a say in the company's future.
Since this article was first published, Reuters has published that the China Securities Daily newspaper has rejected claims that Google may re-enter the Chinese market, citing the relevant departments. Tech Crunch reported that Google is essentially cloning Toutiao, a popular app in China. It has reportedly been demonstrated to the Chinese authorities and might see a commercial launch within the next six to nine months. The release of a new search engine in China would pit Google against Baidu, which accounts for a almost 70 percent share of the search market in China.
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Almost a decade ago, in January 2010, Google abruptly exited the Chinese market after Gmail was hacked by entities or individuals associated with the Chinese government, seeking to identify and crack down on human-rights activists.
Google would be making a disgusting mistake by helping China's authoritarian government censor the internet and suppress dissent.
One of those principles is freedom of expression, so if it does go ahead with a censored search engine for China it can expect plenty of pushback, not only from civil liberties groups but from its own staff. Code-named "Dragonfly", teams of Google engineers and programmers have been working on the project since the spring of 2017.
This has very serious implications not just for China, but for all of us, for freedom of information and internet freedom.
China is known for imposing censorship on internet related content. It will automatically block any websites or searches that are not approved under the Great Firewall.
While going to Google to search for virtually anything is a common practice for many of us, the same isn't true for people in China. Unlike many online publications, we don't have a paywall or run banner advertising, because we want to keep our journalism open, without influence or the need to chase traffic.