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Google is reportedly planning to launch a censored search app in China

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Google Logo dark (Image credit: Android Central)

While going to Google to search for virtually anything is a common practice for many of us, the same isn't true for people in China. The Chinese government's strict censorship rules ban a regular version of Google Search from operating in the country, and while that won't be changing anytime soon, a new report from The Intercept claims that Google's working with the government to launch a censored, stripped down version of its search engine.

The project is currently codenamed as "Dragonfly" and would bring Google Search to China in the form of an Android app. While there aren't any plans for a desktop version quite yet, that shouldn't pose a real issue as 95% of users in China access the internet through a mobile device with Android holding a market share of 80%.

However, if/when that Android app launches, it won't be the same version of Google Search you and I are familiar with.

As reported by The Intercept

Google's Chinese search app will automatically identify and filter websites blocked by the Great Firewall. When a person carries out a search, banned websites will be removed from the first page of results, and a disclaimer will be displayed stating that "some results may have been removed due to statutory requirements." Examples cited in the documents of websites that will be subject to the censorship include those of British news broadcaster BBC and the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

The "Great Firewall" mentioned above is China's internet censorship program and blocks individuals from seeing online content relating to free speech, certain news topics, sex, and more.

Furthermore, The Intercept also notes that Google's app won't show any results for specific words and phrases that have been banned by the government.

The censorship will apply across the platform: Google's image search, automatic spell check and suggested search features will incorporate the blacklists, meaning that they will not recommend people information or photographs the government has banned.

Assuming the Chinese government approves Google's app, we could see it launch within the next six to nine months.

Google had a similar version of its search engine available in China between 2006 and 2010, but eventually decided to retreat from the country following harsh criticism from the United States for its compliance with the government's censorship.

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Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

25 Comments
  • People in the west especially the USA should realize that not everyone shares our values. It's not our place to change the way other nations choose to live. If the Chinese people tolerate and support their somewhat repressive govt then we should still welcome them as a part of the world community. Google is doing the right thing.
  • I totally agree.
  • Well, they don't have a somewhat representative government. You tow the Communist line or you're out I guess this question is going to come off the wrong way so where does one draw the line. Does North Korea just have different values when they put people in camps to die. So we really shouldn't judge them? In my opinion Google it's selling out their values of Do no harm to get in my opinion dirty money from China. Each there own I guess..
  • While I agree with your POV, the people don't tolerate anything. They have to live like that by force. Remember that one time they ran over a college kid with a tank due to a protest.
  • Are you too young to remember Kent State?
  • Wrong then and wrong now. What's your point?
  • I was thinking the same thing
  • Don't you think the people would like a uncensored internet? Typical nonsense comment made by liberals. Who are we to judge , no one or country is better than another. We are the same. Give me a break.
  • Wow you just put a lot of words in my mouth that I didn't say. My point is that nations must decide their own futures. No Government can exist outside the acceptance of the people. Doing nothing is a form of acceptance. It's not the place of outsiders to interfere. Only when a nation attempts to force thier policies on a neighbor who is resisting vigorously would outside interference be justified.
  • "No government can exist outside the acceptance of the people" You are kidding, right? How many millions and millions of people have been slautered by communist and solialist governments?
    You know the answer And no, nations should not decide their own future, the people should. This also includes the United States where people ever increasingly are willing to give up personal freedoms and liberties to a overreaching bloated Federal government.
  • There is something in the bible about casting one's pearls before swine. So Ill shut up now. Go ahead you can have the last word.
  • ........ are you serious? I grew up in communism trust me we didn't want it... we weren't really accepting of it. But if we did speak out guess what happened. You're not seen from again. This everybody's is moral equivalent crap it's sickening
  • I totally disagree. All people should be free. No questions asked.
  • Ohhhh, it's the Venezuelan people's VALUES that cause them to eat rats. Got it.
  • No it's the corrupt socialist government that causes them to eat rats.
  • Kinda late to the party lmao
  • This is BS. Where is all the employee outrage, like when Google was helping OUR OWN government? Censorship is wrong, especially to the degree of the Chinese government standards, and especially in their case, is used to control the population and squash dissent. People can complain about what our government does online, and they have the right to do so, but we're nowhere near as bad as China. To accept Google helping the Chinese government suppress their people? That is EXTREMELY hypocritical, and ANYONE okay with this should be ashamed of themselves.
  • I guess I will NEVER figure out why capitalist America does business among other things with communist China.
  • Amazing right? When Russia was the USSR, they were just so evil, and any business with them meant you were likely going to jail or lose everything you had. But China? Oh, totally cool, we can get cheap labor. Oh, wait, they're still communist? Too bad, the CEO's paying our "real" salaries say it's all good. Even dealing with now non-communist Russia is considered, by most, to be worse than dealing with China.
  • Doesn't Google already actively censor? :)
  • Just came here to see how the liberals would justify this and the excuses they would make, not disappointed, Lol. We'll have scores of Google employees quiting over this in protest, right?
  • I for one won't be holding my breath waiting to see moral consistency from the lefties at Google.
  • What has changed since 2010 when Google removed its censored search app? Government officials profiting from MAGA hats and other crap Trump wares being made in China? Nevertheless, it looks like Google should expect more harsh criticism from U.S. citizens. Speaking of Chinese censorship, I recently read an article about the Beijing professor who wrote an essay criticizing President Xi, the economy, communism, and urging Chinese lawmakers to bring back the two-term limit for the presidency. It was an interesting read.
  • Funny thing about that article by Fan Liqin . the vast majority of the people in China didn't get to see it there was a media blackout on it...
  • Just for you interest. They already launched a censored version of their Search app in Europe / Germany.
    Laws... For some people laws in Europe are outrageous just as some laws in China. You want to participate on their market to make money? You need to obey their laws.