The saga of Google’ Chinese search engine making a possible comeback continues. Last month there was a report claiming that the search giant was working on a possible censored search engine project. This information was quickly debunked by a publication close to the Chinese government. Rumors kept popping up in one form or the other, though.
The alleged censored Chinese search engine project, dubbed “Dragonfly”, already has a prototype, a new report suggests. We know Google is seeking out help from its partners to advocate its Search comeback to China. This Dragonfly prototype would be an Android app. It would tie users’ searches to their phone numbers. This would make it easy to track down search strings and identify individuals, complying with the Chinese government’s censorship requirements.
The Dragonfly app would also contain a blacklist which would block searches for strings like “human rights”, “student protest”, “Nobel Prize”, and others, says the report. The app would go as far as “to replace weather and air pollution data with information provided directly by an unnamed source in Beijing”, says the report.
Meanwhile, a group of 16 Democrats and Republicans wrote a letter to Alphabet regarding Google. In their letter, the Representatives voiced “serious concerns” about such a move from Google. They also asked Google for insurances “that individual Chinese citizens or foreigners living in China, including Americans, will not be surveilled or targeted through Google applications”.