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Is Google Still Working on Censored Search in China?

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Google’s project Dragonfly

Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Google is again facing criticism over its controversial search engine in China (MCHI) (FXI), known as “Project Dragonfly,” which was supposedly halted in December. According to a group of employees, Google is still working on the Dragonfly project, an Internet search engine app that was designed to censor search results related to human rights, religion, democracy, and others. However, Google denies the claims.

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Protest by employees

Thousands of Google employees protested in August when the company reportedly created a secretive search engine that would comply with Chinese censorship. Employees have raised concerns over the company’s ethics and were calling for more transparency at the company. Amid pressure from employees and internal dispute, Google reportedly stopped developing the project in December and relocated the employees working on the project to other projects related to Google’s search services in India (INDA), Indonesia, Russia, the Middle East, and Brazil. Earlier, Google had planned to launch the project between January and April of this year.

Google’s search engine in China

Google had earlier said that the company has no plans of launching a search app in China, though Google has been exploring options to expand its services in China after its services were pulled out of the country in 2010 amid cyber attacks by the Chinese government. Further, launching a potential Chinese search engine is difficult, as the country has stringent rules and technical hurdles for foreign firms.

In China, Google had less than a 3% market share in the search engine market in February 2019 in comparison to local giant Baidu (BIDU), which had more 74% of the share. According to StatCounter data, Baidu holds around 74.6% of the search engine market share in China, while Google has only 2.03%. Microsoft’s (MSFT) Bing has a share of 1.71%.

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