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Google might return to China. Here's why that's controversial

04 August 2018
Google might return to China. Here's why that's controversial

Google may be changing its tune when it comes to the largest single market for internet users.

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 USA military, which was not renewed.

Google's plan comes during a time that China increased its scrutiny into dealings that involve tech firms from the USA including Apple, Qualcomm and Facebook amidst the increased trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.

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.

Recently, Google removed its long-time unofficial motto, "don't be evil," from its corporate code of conduct.

As TechCrunch reports, alongside censored search, Google is working on a "government-friendly news app".

While there is no guarantee that Google will return to China, the company has not denied the veracity of the reports.

According to The Information, Google is developing a news-aggregation app for use in China that will comply with the country's censorship laws.

The Intercept earlier reported Google's China plans on Wednesday, citing internal Google documents and people familiar with the plans. It will set a awful precedent for many other companies who are still trying to do business in China while maintaining the principles of not succumbing to China's censorship. Chief among the hurdles, Google would need approval to re-enter the search market from Chinese authorities, who now block.

When Google pulled out of China in 2010, co-founder Sergey Brin voiced strong objections to any form of censorship having been born in the Soviet Union.

- Josh Rogin (@joshrogin) August 1, 2018 If Google goes through with this and launches a censored search engine in China, effectively normalizing and Americanizing authoritarian censorship, this will be the Waterloo in the global battle for a free internet as a norm.

Among the websites that will be censored or blocked entirely are the British Broadcasting Channel (BBC), Wikipedia, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal, according to the Intercept. Eventually, the company made a decision to scrap the search engine after Chinese human rights activists' Gmail accounts were hacked in a coordinated attack and negotiations with the Chinese government predictably failed to result in any kind of agreement. "It will set a awful precedent for many other companies who are still trying to do business in China while maintaining the principles of not succumbing to China's censorship".

In December, Google announced it would open a new artificial intelligence research centre in Beijing. However, thanks to President Trump's escalating trade war with China at the moment, Google is apparently finding it hard to work with China's internet censor.