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Google plans China-friendly censored search engine

(Image credit: Image Credit: 377053 / Pixabay)

Chinese Internet users could soon be using Google to search the web according to reports that suggest the search giant is currently developing a version of its popular search engine that will conform to China's censorship laws.

Back in 2010, the company shut down its search engine in China because of the way government restrictions were limiting free speech. 

However, now it appears that Google is considering another shot at the Chinese market with The Intercept (opens in new tab) reporting that it has been working on a project code-named Dragonfly that will adhere to government censors by blocking terms such as human rights and religion.

When questioned as to whether the reports were true, Google said that it does not comment on speculation while the state-owned Chinese newspaper, Securities Daily, dismissed the rumours completely.

According to internal company documents, work on Dragonfly was started back in the spring of 2017 though a meeting between CEO Sundar Pichai and a Chinese government official led to the project's timeline being accelerated. In addition to a different version of its search engine, Google has also been developing an Android app with two different versions called Maotai and Longfei which could launch within nine months after receiving Chinese government approval.

The company's Chinese search app would work by blacklisting sensitive queries and displaying a disclaimer that “some results may have been removed due to statutory requirements.”

Until Google confirms that it has modified its search engine for the Chinese market we won't know for sure but if the reports do turn out to be true, both activists and the company's critics will likely have a lot to say on the matter.

Image Credit: 377053 / Pixabay

Anthony Spadafora
Anthony Spadafora

After getting his start at ITProPortal and then working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches to how to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.