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Google Terminates Controversial Dragonfly Project in China

testing / Shutterstock.com

testing / Shutterstock.com

Google’s Vice President of Public Policy, Karan Bhatia, confirmed at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last Tuesday that the Dragonfly project in China has been terminated.

The said project, which was exposed last year by The Intercept, aims to extend Google’s online influence in China by creating a censored version of the Google Search. The media outlet further revealed that Dragonfly had been underway since the spring of 2017.

According to the documents obtained by Intercept, Google CEO Sundar Pichai also met with a top Chinese government official in December 2017 to expedite the project.

“Teams of programmers and engineers at Google have created a custom Android app, different versions of which have been named “Maotai” and “Longfei.” The app has already been demonstrated to the Chinese government; the finalized version could be launched in the next six to nine months, pending approval from Chinese officials,” Intercept reported then.

People and organizations who were against China’s censorship policy were not happy with the news. Many expressed their outrage and condemned Google’s actions.

Now, over a year after the company’s plan was exposed, Google gave in to the pressure and abandoned its efforts to penetrate the Chinese search market.

Terminating the Dragonfly Project

During Tuesday’s hearing, Missouri Senator Josh Howley grilled Bhatia. The senator was quoted asking the Google exec:

“You’re happy to censor for the repressive authoritarian Chinese regime? Like for instance, with Google.cn? Happy to censor away any mention of Tiananmen Square? Happy to help the Chinese government maintain control of all information within the country? Happy to help them control the information flow to their own citizens? You’re happy to do all of that? Wouldn’t you call that censorship with an ideological agenda?”

Answering the senator’s inquiry, Bhatia claimed that Google has already exited China in 2010 and has not offered any of its products in the said Asian country. When probed about the Dragonfly, the executive was quick to confirm it’s been terminated.

“We have terminated Project Dragonfly.”

Bhatia’s statement was the first public admission from Google’s camp about the existence of the Dragonfly project and it’s termination. However, a Google spokesperson told BuzzFeed in an interview that what Bhatia said didn’t reflect new developments since the company has no plans to launch Search in China.

Read More: Bing Is Back Online In China — For Now

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Chelle Fuertes

Chelle is the Product Management Lead at INK. She's an experienced SEO professional as well as UX researcher and designer. She enjoys traveling and spending time anywhere near the sea with her family and friends.

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