Plans by Google to launch a censored search engine in China have led to disquiet among the company’s workforce, according to The Intercept, which first revealed those plans.
Politicians are also weighing in on the possibility, while some experts say Google shouldn’t bother. According to The Intercept:
Company managers responded by swiftly trying to shut down employees’ access to any documents that contained information about the China censorship project, according to Google insiders who witnessed the backlash.
“Everyone’s access to documents got turned off, and is being turned on [on a] document-by-document basis,” said one source. “There’s been total radio silence from leadership, which is making a lot of people upset and scared. … Our internal meme site and Google Plus are full of talk, and people are a.n.g.r.y.”
The company has not answered questions about the issue, called Project DragonFly.
But that may change in light of the fact the some Senators are getting involved now. According to Gizmodo:
In a letter sent to Google CEO Sundar Pichai by Senator Marco Rubio and signed by five other lawmakers, the company’s fundamental ethics are questioned. After praising Google’s decision to pull its search service from China, the letter characterizes a compromised new search engine as “a coup for the Chinese government” that would set a “worrying precedent for other companies seeking to do business in China.” It also emphasizes security concerns over the American company intertwining its business with Chinese corporations that are inextricably tied to the Chinese government.
The letter then lays out several questions about the project, beginning with: “Is Google developing a search engine or other censored application for China?”
Some experts are wondering what the point of Google getting involved in China is. Beyond the backlash, the company will have trouble competing in a monopolistic market dominated by Baidu.
According to CNBC:
“Google got its butt kicked by Baidu once,” says Shawn Rein, managing director at the China Market Research Group. “When we interviewed consumers at the time, 90 percent of them said that they used Baidu for Chinese language search, and only used Google for English search, because the results in Chinese just paled in comparison to Baidu’s. In the last decade, Baidu has just gotten better, while Google still doesn’t have the trust of knowing the Chinese language.”