Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google, didn’t rule out launching a censorship and surveillance tool in China, but…
Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google, didn’t rule out launching a censorship and surveillance tool in China, but indicated the company will be transparent and “thoughtful” about any such plans.
Pichai had indicated that Google is still working on a search app for the Chinese market, a secretive project that some company employees claim will include censorship and surveillance features. However, he said the launch of such a product isn’t imminent.
“We have undertaken an internal effort, but right now, there are no plans to launch a search service in China,” Pichai said, while testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Dec. 11.
Google has faced enduring criticism after information leaked that it was secretly developing the censored app as part of a project dubbed “Dragonfly.” Lawmakers, human-rights advocates, and even some employees protested against the project.
The communist regime in China requires companies, even those that are foreign, to censor topics it deems to be “sensitive,” such as democracy, human rights, and the ongoing persecution in China of Falun Gong practitioners, underground Christians, human-rights activists, and others. Companies are also forced to share with the regime any of their data stored in China.
According to insider information leaked to the Intercept, the controversial Google app was designed to link users’ search history with their phone numbers, making it easier for the regime to target dissidents.
Pichai appeared to deny the company is in discussions with Chinese officials regarding Dragonfly, when asked by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R. I.). However, his response suggests the project is ongoing.
“This effort, currently, is an internal effort,” he said.
Pichai wouldn’t confirm who is leading the Dragonfly project.
“Our efforts around building search, you know, it’s undertaken by our search teams, but these are distributed efforts,” he said. “It’s a limited effort internally, currently.

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