A recent online leak reveals that Google may be launching a Chines version of search engine in few months time
Google has been on this program for a while now and have been faced with several setbacks, despite, Google hopes to launch its heavily censored Chinese search engine within the next six to nine months, specifically around the middle of next year. The company has however, been reluctant to reveal further details about ‘Project Dragonfly’ as it was referred to, but a leaked transcript from a private internal meeting reveals how close the project is to completion.
Google’s head of search, Ben Gomes, informed that the search engine was at the “exploration” stage, and there were no “plans to launch something.” CEO Sundar Pichai has been just as vague, claiming Google was “exploring many options” and “not close” to launching a search product in China—statements echoed by Google’s chief privacy officer, Kieth Enright.
However, report from an intercept-a media source, leaked a transcript from a meeting between Gomes and Google staff last month reveals Project Dragonfly to be deep into development. The search engine on the contrary will block links to sites that focus on democracy, religion, human rights, and protests, as well as social networks and western news sources. Gomes further emphasized on the need to have the Chinese version of Google search engine “While we are saying it’s going to be six and nine months [to launch], the world is a very dynamic place.” He said “people in China were missing out on Google. “It’s clearly the biggest opportunity to serve more people that we have,” he told staff during the meeting.
In the meeting, which took place on July 18, Gomes also acknowledged the controversy surrounding the project. “We are working with you to make sure your careers are not affected by this,” he assured employees. More information gathered also revealed that the Dragonfly prototype has ability to link users’ searches to their personal phone numbers, allowing China’s government to monitor its citizens’ queries.
The project has had about 5 employees quit their jobs already, and 1400 workers have signed a letter demanding more information. Last week saw Vice President Mike Pence criticize the company, warning that the search engine would “strengthen Communist Party censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers.” One has to wonder whether the millions of new Chinese customers are worth the PR hammering Google is taking for Project Dragonfly.
Maybe in the nearest future, Nigeria can as well suggest a pidgin edition of the Google search engine, seeing that the project Dragonfly could sprout a racial concern.