How Google reversed its course on opposition to censorship in China

04 August, 2018, 17:48 | Author: Sergio Cook
  • Google China

The California-based internet company has engineers designing search software that would leave out content blacklisted by the Chinese government, according to a New York Times report citing two unnamed people familiar with the effort. And some Google (googl) employees are reportedly not wild about this new push.

Google's strength in mobile would certainly give the company a lead in search and advertising services.

Others commentators on Twitter have been similarly troubled by the news.

Still, critics complained that Google was breaching its own company motto: "Don't Be Evil".

Google has been fighting internally over the ethical implications of its actions in recent years, and the China dilemma is a major battlefront. But that doesn't mean it'll be easy for the company to explain the concessions it'll have to make to the government.

"This has very serious implications not just for China, but for all of us, for freedom of information and internet freedom", Poon said.

"Google claims to value freedom and one hopes Google will put its corporate principles and America first, ahead of Chinese cash", he added. "Not being in China is a huge strategic miscalculation".

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The final step would be the launch of the search engine app according to The Intercept, although it did state that its release would depend on the Chinese government's final approval and the release could be in six to nine months. It's unclear if the apps now in development would do the same, as Google refused to comment "on speculation about future plans".

Google was battling Baidu (BIDU) for market share. Most of its services are blocked, including Gmail and the Google Play app store.

Google's Android operating system is by far the most popular mobile operating system in China. Poon told The Intercept that if Google launches a censored version of its search engine it will "set a bad precedent" for other companies. "We do not want to give users something that's illegal or something that's under our borderline". The project started previous year in April after Sundar Pinchai's meeting with the Chinese government.

The plan, which was criticized by human rights advocates, comes as China has stepped up scrutiny of business dealings involving USA tech firms including Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and Qualcomm Inc amid intensifying trade tensions between Beijing and Washington. But they said that it was unclear at this point if the app would be launched - partly because of the negative publicity surrounding the Intercept's story and partly due to the ongoing tensions between Washington and Beijing over trade.

China has also seen increased affluence among its consumers, which are quick to embrace innovative new technologies and services. In some cases, the user will only get a blank page.

Fei-Fei Li, a Stanford researcher who joined Google as its chief artificial intelligence scientist in January 2017, said in a blog post at the time, "AI and its benefits have no borders". Given the size of the market, it's perhaps not surprising.


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