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Google plans to re-enter China with government-approved search app

Google plans to re-enter China with government-approved search app

As a result of Google's absence, Baidu is the dominant search engine in China, and approved by its government.

However, the Chinese human rights community said Google acquiescing to China's censorship would be a "dark day for internet freedom".

Google's Android already has the largest market share of any operating system in China, now accounting for roughly 51 percent of all devices. The Chinese social media website Weibo is one of the most popular online platforms in the country - that platform blocks information topics such as "anti-communism", authoritarian related novels such as George Orwell's 1984, and much more.

The project codenamed Dragonfly is claimed to have been underway since early past year, with acceleration seen during the last couple of months, courtesy high-level meetings between Sundar Pichai and "a top Chinese government official". For example, it insisted previous year that it wasn't blocking VPNs, which are now one of the few options for Chinese citizens who want to bypass the Great Firewall.

Human rights group Amnesty International said it was calling on Google to change course. The app, according to the documents, will "blacklist sensitive queries" and filter websites already blocked by Chinese authorities. It will set a awful precedent for many other companies who are still trying to do business in China while maintaining the principles of not succumbing to China's censorship.

The ongoing trade dispute between President Trump and China's government further complicates the prospect of Google re-entering China's market. Google has demonstrated the app to officials from the Chinese government, according to The Intercept and the Times.

The report said a final version could be introduced within six to nine months, pending approval of Chinese officials.

"We don't comment on speculation about future plans", a Google spokesperson wrote in an email to Search Marketing Daily.

It comes as China steps up scrutiny into business dealings involving United States tech firms including Facebook. A few years later, Google corrected that error and stopped censoring results in China, leading to the site mostly being blocked by China's Great Firewall.

Back in 2010, Google pulled its search service out of China because it didn't want to censor the search results; the move reported Wednesday would mark a departure from that.

The mainland Chinese market, however, has been off-limits to the operations of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which are behind the Great Firewall.

If the rumor turns out to be true, it would add to the list of Google's efforts to increase its presence on the Chinese soil.

Google complying with China's unreasonable demands sets a bad example for other internet companies.

"Google would be setting a chilling precedent and handing the Chinese government a victory", its China researcher, Patrick Poon, said in an e-mailed statement.

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