Sci-tech

Will Google search actually return to China?

Will Google search actually return to China?”

The final version of Google's modified search app, which will blacklist sites on human rights, democracy, religion and other issues deemed sensitive by the Chinese government, has already been shown to authorities and is now pending approval, according to the online news publication, which cited people familiar with the matter and internal Google documents.

According to the report, after retracting its search engine from China in 2010, Google is set to make a return to the country with a censored version within the next 6-9 months.

The plan, which was criticized by human rights advocates, comes as China has stepped up scrutiny of business dealings involving United States tech firms including Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and Qualcomm Inc amid intensifying trade tensions between Beijing and Washington.

China employs a digital censorship system known as the "Great Firewall of China" that prevents citizens from accessing websites such as Google and Facebook, it would appear that Google's new search engine will comply with strict Chinese censorship laws in order to operate within the country. And some Google (googl) employees are reportedly not wild about this new push.

Human rights group Amnesty International said it was calling on Google to change course.

While Google did remove the "evil" thing from this code of conduct, it did leave this mention right at the end: "And remember... don't be evil, and if you see something that you think isn't right - speak up!"

"WTF!" Google researcher Meredith Whittaker wrote on Twitter, describing the company's move as "enabling mass politically-directed censorship of (AI-enabled) search".

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. Google has been making a series of strategic investments into Chinese businesses as a way to indirectly gain access to one of the world's largest markets, but now may be taking a more direct approach.

"Google said it wouldn't bow to Beijing's censorship, and it should stick to its word, especially now that it's canceled its partnership with our military".

But the company still employs 700 people in three offices in China working on other projects.

The company shut down the engine in 2010, complaining that free speech was being limited. Shares in Baidu, which reported better-than-expected results a day earlier, slumped as much as 8 percent on Wednesday.

Google "faces an uphill battle in getting users who are now very accustomed to Baidu to switch", said Mark Natkin, managing director of Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting.

"While removing search results is inconsistent with Google's mission, providing no information (or a heavily degraded user experience that amounts to no information) is more inconsistent with our mission", Google said at the time.



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