Baidu slumps on prospect Google plans comeback in China with censored app

Report: Google's Plan to Launch Censored Search Engine in China Revealed

The censorship will apply to Google image search, automatic spell check and suggested search features. The Information reports (paywall) that a competitor to AI-powered news app Toutiao has also been under development by Google "since a year ago", and that, of course, it would "comply with the country's strict censorship laws".

Other Google employees on internal forums said staying away from China had not changed the course of the Chinese government or brought "any positive change", Bloomberg reported. Established by the country's communist rulers in 1998, Golden Shield is an all-encompassing censorship regime that prohibits Chinese citizens in mainland China, not including Hong Kong and Macau, from reading information that the government doesn't want them to.

The Intercept reported that the work has been ongoing since the spring of 2017 and was accelerated in December following a meeting between Google CEO Sundar Pichai and a top government official in China.

The tech giant had already come under fire this year from thousands of employees who signed a petition against a $10-million contract with the United States military, which was not renewed.

"WTF!" Google researcher Meredith Whittaker wrote on Twitter, describing the company's move as "enabling mass politically-directed censorship of (AI-enabled) search". "An exec at an internet giant once told me that their AI speaker could be much better if they didn't have to spend so much time on censoring sensitive stuff".

In light of the backlash Google received this year after thousands of its employees signed a petition against a $10-million contract with the U.S. military, the company has not conferred the existence of the project. A final version of the app could be launched within six to nine months, it said.

A Google spokeswoman said that the company would not speculate on future plans, but that it did already have a notable presence in China.

China has also seen increased affluence among its consumers, which are quick to embrace innovative new technologies and services.

More news: Apple closes in on becoming the world's first US$1 trillion company

At the time, Google staffers wrote an open letter to company CEO Sundar Pichai, which read in part, "We can not outsource the moral responsibility of our technologies to third parties".

With more than 770 million Internet users as of late previous year, China has always been an attractive market for tech companies.

Confidential Google documents accessed by the publication reveal that Google's Chinese search app will automatically identify and filter websites blocked by the "Great Firewall".

But the report pummelled shares of US-listed Baidu, which dominates China's search engine market.

He has continued to say that the fact that the world's largest search engine succumbing to China's censorship laws will send a negative signal concerning the right to information and free-speech, making people believe that nobody will ever bother, or should, challenge the censorship any more.

Last year, Apple removed hundreds of apps that allow users to avoid censorship from its download store in China at the request of the Beijing government.

China's search sector is now dominated by Baidu, which heavily censors its searches.

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