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Google Accused of 'Gross Attack' on Internet Freedom

Company reportedly developing apps in line with Chinese censorship
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2018 10:14 AM CDT
A Google icon is seen on a mobile phone in Philadelphia.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

(Newser) – Google is looking to reenter the Chinese market it exited in protest over government censorship in a move critics say is nothing short of hypocritical. According to the Information and Intercept, Google has presented to Chinese officials two mobile apps—one for internet searches, one focusing on news aggregation—that would block content blacklisted by the government. It's a savvy business move in a lucrative market of over 750 million users, dominated by search engine Baidu. Yet it recalls Google's 2010 exit from China over the same government censorship its latest efforts would reportedly support. Co-founder Sergey Brin specifically cited totalitarian governments when pulling the Chinese service, though the company had said in 2006 that "removing search results" was better than "providing no information," per CNN.

Google, which already has translation and file management apps available in China, had notified Chinese users that their search results were being censored. It's unclear if the apps now in development would do the same, as Google refused to comment "on speculation about future plans." (The state-owned China Securities Daily denies the report, per the Guardian.) But "in putting profits before human rights, Google would be setting a chilling precedent" with what Amnesty International sees as "a gross attack on freedom of information and internet freedom," reports the Guardian. "We don't need a second Baidu," a Chinese data researcher adds, per the New York Times, which adds that Google's own employees have quit or refused to work on the apps, which they apparently think flouts the company's own motto: "Do the right thing." (Read more Google stories.)

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