Can Google ‘do the right thing’ if it is creating a censorship search engine for China?

Why Google’s re-entry into China is so controversial

Google will work with the Chinese Communist party to develop a ‘censored search engine’ to satisfy the country’s authoritarian demands.

The reported decision to acquiesce has infuriated human rights campaigners who accuse the search giant of valuing Renminbi’s above the promotion of free and open societies.

This follows an investigation by the New York Times which suggested that Google has tasked engineers to develop custom search software for the Chinese market on the quiet by purposefully omitting content that has been blacklisted by the Chinese government.

Moreover it is also believed to be building a second app specialising in Chinese news aggregation which will also comply with the countries stringent censorship laws.

Such moves sit completely at odds with Google’s prior refusal to meekly roll over in the face of state aggression, which famously saw it withdraw completely from the Chinese market in 2010. Since then it has been staging a slow return however, most recently with an AI WeChat game.

Patrick Poon, China researcher for Amnesty International, was quick to castigate any potential climbdown from Google’s principled stance, stating: “It is impossible to see how such a move is compatible with Google’s ‘do the right thing’ motto and we are calling on the company to change course.

“For the world’s biggest search engine to adopt such extreme measures would be a gross attack on freedom of information and internet freedom. In putting profits before human rights, Google would be setting a chilling precedent and handing the Chinese government a victory.”

The Chinese government has sparked concern by blocking not only website content which it disagrees with but also monitoring internet usage of specific individuals - mechanisms disparagingly referred to as the Great Firewall.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.