Google planning comeback in China after eight years

Google is planning to relaunch its search engine in China and has been working on a project named Dragonfly that would allow Chinese residents to see censored search results in the country. Google Search is, however, available in Hong Kong, where topics such as democracy and peaceful protest are accessible and often accessed by users.

The plan comes even as China has stepped up scrutiny into business dealings involving US tech firms including Facebook Inc (FB.O), Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) amid intensifying trade tensions between Beijing and Washington.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin, whose parents brought him to the United States to escape communist Russian Federation, led a dramatic exit from mainland China in 2010 after the company refused to self-censor search content. Google's plans to release an app that complies with this philosophy raises questions over whether the company is just doing business within the confines of the market or being complicit in oppression.

According to internal documents, acquired by The Intercept, the final version could be launched in the next six to nine months, pending approval from the Chinese government.

The human rights group said it would be a "dark day for internet freedom" and would constitute "a gross attack on freedom of information and internet freedom" if the tech giant accepted China's censorship terms.

At the moment, references to The Intercept's article and the development of the search engine are being promptly expunged from Weibo, another fact that does not appear to bode well for Google's chances. He said he had transferred out of his unit to avoid being involved.

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Google programmers and engineers have reportedly made an Android app that's already been shown to the Chinese government.

The question remains if Google has any more chance to win the Chinese search engine market.

Google's search has been banned in mainland China for years due to the company not conforming to the government's regulations on what should and should not be censored on the Internet.

Google declined to comment on specifics mentioned in The Intercept report, but noted that it has launched a number of mobile apps in the country and works with local developers as part of maintaining its domestic presence. The report goes on to say that reaching Android users is crucial as the operating system boasts of 80 percent of the total smartphone market share in China.

But Meredith Whittaker, a New York University research scientist and recognized ethicist in artificial intelligence who also happens to be a Google employee, raised questions publicly about whether Google's plan to provide a censored search service in China violated the company's new AI principles.

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