Google is reportedly gearing up to launch a search engine app in China that will be censorship friendly, blocking websites and search terms that the communist country doesn’t want its citizens searching for.
Google withdrew its search engine from China eight years ago due to censorship and hacking but it is now working on a project for the country codenamed “Dragonfly”, a Google employee said on condition of anonymity.
The search project which works like a filter that sorts out certain topics can be tested within the company’s internal networks, the source said.
According to reports by news website The Intercept, the tech giant had already come under fire this year from thousands of employees who signed a petition against a $10-million contract with the US military, which was not renewed.
Documents seen by The Intercept, marked “Google confidential,” say that Google’s Chinese search app will automatically identify and filter websites blocked by the Great Firewall. When a person carries out a search, banned websites will be removed from the first page of results, and a disclaimer will be displayed stating that “some results may have been removed due to statutory requirements.” Examples cited in the documents of websites that will be subject to the censorship include those of British news broadcaster BBC and the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.
The search app will also “blacklist sensitive queries” so that “no results will be shown” at all when people enter certain words or phrases, the documents state. The censorship will apply across the platform: Google’s image search, automatic spell check and suggested search features will incorporate the blacklists, meaning that they will not recommend people information or photographs the government has banned.
It is unclear whether Google will eventually launch a desktop version of its censored China search platform. For now, the company is focused on initially rolling out the Android app, which a large portion of China’s population will be able to access.