DHARAMSALA, Dec 12: Amidst heightening campaign by Human rights groups and employees alike calling on Google to discard its plan to relaunch in China with a censored version of its search engine, the CEO of the American multinational technology company has said that Google has “no plans” to relaunch a search engine in China though it is continuing to study the idea.
“Right now, there are no plans to launch search in China,” the company’s Chief Executive Sundar Pichai made the remarks yesterday as he testified before a House Judiciary Committee hearing, the Reuters noted.
But Pichai has however admitted that internally Google has “developed and looked at what search could look like but there are no current discussions with the Chinese government.
“We’ve had the project underway for a while. At one point, we’ve had over 100 people working on it is my understanding,” Pichai said and stopped short of disclosing there are no current discussions with the Chinese government.
After media reports shed light on Google’s secret plans for a censored China search engine, Human rights groups, lawmakers and the company’s employees alike expressed their concern that it would represent an alarming capitulation by Google on human rights.
A letter signed by human rights groups and advocacy organizations earlier in August stated that the project –code-named Dragonfly, which Google has not publicly confirmed, “would represent an alarming capitulation by Google on human rights.”
Similarly, Tibetan, Uyghur and Chinese activists united with digital tech experts and held an online media briefing on the human rights implications of Google’s project dragonfly and called on the Google to respect human rights, don’t do China’s dirty work and to cancel the the project dragonfly on December 10; celebrated across the world as the Human Rights day as it marks 70 years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was issued.
It is understood that Google’s plan to relaunch in China with a censored search engine has been underway since spring of last year and accelerated following a December 2017 meeting between Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai and a top Chinese government official.
Dragonfly, the censored China search engine is reportedly designed to censor websites and search terms about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest.