Alphabet Inc.’s (GOOGL) subsidiary Google is said to have shut down the development of a censored search engine for China, according to a report by The Intercept. The project had received backlash from the company’s employees who said it went against Google’s ethos.
The Chinese search engine project, termed Dragonfly, was reportedly one of top priority for the management team as China is a lucrative market. China has strict rules on censorship and to meet these requirements, the employees working on Dragonfly were reportedly developing blacklists, which would aid in blocking information on sensitive issues like democracy and human rights.
However, after Google’s privacy team came to know about this, the project was reported to have undergone some changes which in turn affected its progress. A large number of engineers were moved from the Dragonfly project to other projects related to Indonesia, Brazil and India.
Google had planned to launch Dragonfly in early 2019 but the report said the protests and other issues appear to have forced the company to shelve it at least for the short term. Last week, when Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai was questioned by the Congress on the censored Chinese search engine, he said the company did not have plans to launch a search engine in China right now but did not rule out a future possibility.
Earlier this year, Google employees had opposed the company’s collaboration with the Pentagon on a project involving artificial intelligence capabilities and military drones. Google subsequently said it would not renew the contract after existing obligations were met.