Google has abandoned its plans to develop Dragonfly, a search engine specially for China after receiving series of internal complaints from the team working on the project, according to a report from investigative news site The Intercept.
Google was forced to shut down a data analysis system crucial for the development of the censored Chinese search engine, better known as Dragonfly, after receiving complaints from the company’s privacy team, the report said, citing two sources.
Dragonfly was first revealed in August to be the code name for Google’s secret mission to build a censored search engine specifically for China, which would blacklist websites on any issues deemed sensitive by Beijing, from human rights to democracy to religion.
Google has suffered setbacks for refusing to censor searches as required by the Chinese government, a decision which saw it banned in mainland China since early 2010. That forced more than 750 million internet users to use the only other option available, the domestic rival Baidu, which in recent years has suffered a backlash from cases of deceptive advertising.
A Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for Google declined to comment on the article and referred to Pichai’s previous testimony.
‘Right now there are no plans for us to launch a search product in China. We are, in general, always looking to see how best it’s part of our core mission and our principles to try hard to provide users with information,’ Pichai told the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee last week.
The existence of Dragonfly has triggered protests from human rights groups and Google employees, hundreds of which have signed an open letter demanding an end to what they see as a tool to help Beijing oppress dissident voices.
Google had been using Beijing-based 265.com, a Chinese-language web directory service it bought in 2008, to gather data about what Chinese people routinely search for in Mandarin, according to the report. Such a practice is normally subject to constraints and reviews by Google’s privacy team, which, nevertheless, were kept in the dark about the use of 265.com until Dragonfly was exposed to the public.
Following internal complaints from privacy staff, teams working on Dragonfly were told that they were no longer allowed to use the 265.com data to build the censored Chinese search project, according to the report. Several groups of engineers have now been moved off Dragonfly to other projects. – South China Morning Post