Google is planning to release a censored version of its search app in China, according to a report from The Intercept. The project, apparently code-named Dragonfly, has been in development since last spring. The app will limit searches to exclude information not approved by the Chinese government, like results about sex or political dissidence.
The app, which has been called Maotai and Longfei at different stages in development, has been demonstrated to Chinese officials, and could release in the next six to nine months. Documents reviewed by The Intercept say the app will filter out blacklisted content, showing a disclaimer that “some results may have been removed due to statutory requirements.” Sources will be limited as well as topics; the documents name both the BBC and Wikipedia as inaccessible via the new app.
The Chinese government maintains strict control over what its people can access online. Content pertaining to sex, free speech, academia, anti-authoritarian views, and many other topics is blocked. 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.
"I’m against large companies and governments collaborating in the oppression of their people, and feel like transparency around what’s being done is in the public interest," The Intercept's anonymous source said.
In response to the leak, Google reportedly shut down access to any documents pertaining to the Chinese search app. The Intercept reports that a large number of employees are outraged about the project, while others have declined offers to join the team.
- The Intercept
- The Verge