Google collaborates with Chinese government censorship to regain access to the Asian country.
Google is preparing a mobile application of its search engine specific to the Chinese market that will censor the results according to the will and rules of the authorities of the Asian country, which maintain a tight control over what its citizens can see on the Internet.
According to The Intercept, citing anonymous sources of the company and internal documents, the American technological giant has been working on the project for months, which has already been presented to Beijing and is awaiting authorization from the Chinese government.
Neither the company nor the Chinese authorities have confirmed conversations that, if successful, would mean the return of Google to the country with more Internet users in the world, which decided to leave in 2010 because, in the words of its then executive vice president, David Drummond, ” self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement. ” Well, it now seems that it has become pretty negotiable and Google will make big cash out of it.
The current management team, led by Sundar Pichai, would have opted to retake the business in the country even if this means complying with regulations as hard as or worse than those that forced them to leave eight years ago.
Pichai met with a senior Chinese government official in December last year and since then he apparently accelerated the project, according to The Intercept.
The local newspaper China Securities Daily denied on Thursday the information from US media and said that “taking into account the international and domestic context, it is unlikely that Google will return to China in the short term,” citing as source “relevant departments.”
The approval should come from the Cyberspace Administration of China, the competent regulatory body, whose main responsibility has been released this week.
The project, nicknamed Dragonfly, is based on a mobile application for Android that would automatically identify and filter web pages and keywords eliminated by the Chinese censorship system, popularly known as the Great CyberWall.
When a user performs a search in which some results have been deleted, a warning message would appear. Its final version could be released between the next six and nine months, if Beijing finally gave the go-ahead to the product.
The Chinese CyberWall currently blocks access to Google and virtually all its services, including YouTube, as well as other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The web pages of several media outlets are also inaccessible from the country.
In Chinese social networks, a sophisticated algorithm and an army of censors continuously control contents and eliminate those considered illegal, from violence and pornography to political slogans against the Communist Party or defending human rights and individual liberties.
In addition, a new cybersecurity law requires technology companies to store data obtained from their users in China on servers located in the territory of this country.
Apple already complied with these and other demands and gave the information to a state-owned company and, therefore, to the Chinese Government. Others, such as Microsoft or LinkedIn, have succumbed to Beijing’s legal requirements from the beginning.
Google operated in China between 2006 and 2010, also under the yoke of censorship by the authorities. But finally decided to move its servers and operate from Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China in which there is freedom of information.
During these eight years, Google has launched some products in mainland China as its translation or document storage service and has collaborated with local partners in, for example, the sale of hardware.
The intention of returning to China with its main business, or at least trying, reflects the dilemma faced by most major foreign technology: make concessions to gain access or stay out.
The Chinese authorities, in turn, aware of the enormous power of negotiation granted by some 750 million Internet users, have not moved one iota in their demands to exercise a draconian control over content.
During the years in which Google has been out, the local competitor Baidu has strengthened its leadership as the main search engine of the country, with a market share of around 70%.
During the early hours of yesterday, the reactions have multiplied in the US. According to Business Insider, some employees of Google have expressed their surprise and anger at this possible decision.
Senator Marco Rubio tweeted that reading about Google’s plans in China is “very disturbing.”