Google’s plans, if any, to launch a search platform in China complying to the country’s internet censorship rules, was seemingly stalled by a opposition from users, employees, and politicians alike. And yesterday, while testifying in front of the US Congress, CEO Sundar Pichai assured the interrogators that the tech giant has no plans of entering China anytime soon, but he didn’t rule it out completely either.
Responding to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s from Texas, Pichai said that as of now, Google isn’t planning to launch a modified version of Google search in China. Pichai spoke to ease Lee’s concern about the government-controlled version of search being used as a tool for oppression upon the Chinese citizens “looking for a lifeline of freedom and democracy“. Pichai hailed the access to information, “an important human right.”
The executive, however, did not commit to not launching Search in China, which might be used as “a tool for surveillance and censorship in China“, as Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island posed it. CNBC reports than Pichai stayed away from giving a straight answer and instead said, “we always think it’s in our duty to explore possibilities to give users access to information“.
Besides this, Pichai did confirm that there was an “internal effort“ for the development of the so-called Project Dragonfly and assured that these efforts would be made public, once the team members “make progress“. Google has 100+ people working on it, according to Pichai.
— issie lapowsky (@issielapowsky) December 11, 2018
Earlier, Google has had to face significant criticism from human rights advocates for sponsoring the endeavor. A large number of Google employees, too, wrote an open letter which called for dumping the project.
This was in opposition to the surveillance activities by the Chinese government including mass monitoring and profiling for social benefits. Further, Google would be compelled to share users; private data with the Chinese government, and thus, would be complicit to some extent in the state oppression and human rights abuses.