Google has largely stayed out of the Chinese market for the past decade, but last year, it looked like that might change. Plans about 'Project Dragonfly,' a search engine tailored for China, were leaked in August of last year. The project suffered from criticism inside and outside of Google, as search results would have been highly censored, and development reportedly ended in December.
According to The Intercept, a group of Google employees conducted their own investigation to find out if Project Dragonfly was truly dead. They claim that a code repository linked to Project Dragonfly is still being worked on, with 500 recorded changes in December and more than 400 in January and February. The code was created for two smartphone search apps, named 'Maotai' and 'Longfei,' which Google planned to release in China.
The employees' investigation also found that around 100 workers are still assigned to the "cost center" associated with Dragonfly, meaning Google maintains a budget for potential ongoing work. Sources told The Intercept that the code changes could be from employees finishing up aspects of their work. One unnamed source said, "I still believe the project is dead, but we’re still waiting for a declaration from Google that censorship is unacceptable and that they will not collaborate with governments in the oppression of their people."
Google declined to provide The Intercept with a comment. We've reached out to the company, and we will update this post if we get a response.
A Google spokesperson provided the following statement:
"This speculation is inaccurate. As we’ve said for many months, we have no plans to launch Search in China and there is no work being undertaken on such a project. Team members have moved to new projects."
- The Intercept