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Google Shuts Down ‘Censored’ Chinese Search Project

Google had earlier launched a search engine in China in 2006 but pulled the plug in 2010, citing Chinese government efforts to limit free speech and block websites

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A Google logo is displayed at the entrance to the internet based company's offices in Toronto. VOA

Facing widespread criticism over its “censored” Search engine for the Chinese market, Google has reportedly shut down a data collection system that was key to develop the search project code-named “Dragonfly”.

According to a report in The Intercept on Tuesday, the move comes after hundreds of Google employees raised internal complaints that the project had been kept secret from them.

The report found that Google employees, working on the Dragonfly project, “had been using a Beijing-based website to help develop blacklists for the censored search engine”.

The website www.265.com is a Chinese-language web directory service which Google bought in 2008 from a billionaire Chinese entrepreneur.

“265.com provides its Chinese visitors with news updates, information about financial markets, horoscopes, and advertisements for cheap flights and hotels,” said the report.

“As The Intercept reported in August, it appears that Google has used 265.com as a honeypot for market research, storing information about Chinese users’ searches before sending them along to Baidu,” the report added.

Google engineers working on Dragonfly obtained large datasets showing queries that Chinese people were entering into the 265.com search engine.

“Members of Google’s privacy team, however, were kept in the dark about the use of 265.com,” said the report, quoting sources.

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Google shuts down ‘censored’ Chinese Search project: Report. VOA

Now, the teams working on Dragonfly are no longer gathering search queries from mainland China.

“Significantly, several groups of engineers have now been moved off of Dragonfly completely, and told to shift their attention away from China to instead work on projects related to India, Indonesia, Russia, the Middle East and Brazil,” the report claimed.

Google was yet to comment on the report.

Last week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told a US House Judiciary Committee that the company had “no plans” to launch a search product in China.

In November, Google employees wrote in an open letter to the company that their “opposition to Dragonfly is not about China: we object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be”.

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“Dragonfly in China would establish a dangerous precedent at a volatile political moment, one that would make it harder for Google to deny other countries similar concessions,” they wrote.

Google had earlier launched a search engine in China in 2006 but pulled the plug in 2010, citing Chinese government efforts to limit free speech and block websites. (IANS)

Next Story

Google Brings New Feature Called ‘Focus Mode’ For Android Devices

Focus mode is available on all devices that currently have Digital Wellbeing and parental controls settings, including new phones launching with Android 9 and Android 10

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Focus mode is a new Digital Wellbeing tool on Google Android, now out of beta, that helps you get things done by temporarily pausing apps so you can focus on the task at hand. Pixabay

Google has introduced a new feature ‘Focus Mode’ for Android devices designed to prevent its users from being consistently distracted by their smartphone.

The feature allows users to turn off distractions – like social media updates or email notifications – for a period of time, so a user can get things done without interruption.

Focus mode was first announced at Google’s developer conference in the summer as part of Android Q/10.

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Google has introduced a new feature ‘Focus Mode’ for Android devices designed to prevent its users from being consistently distracted by their smartphone. Pixabay

“Focus mode is a new Digital Wellbeing tool on Android, now out of beta, that helps you get things done by temporarily pausing apps so you can focus on the task at hand. You can select apps you currently find distracting (like social media or games) and if you try to open them, Focus mode will remind you that app is paused.

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“Focus mode will also silence those apps’ notifications until you are ready to switch out of the mode,” Dayson Pais Product Manager, Android said in a statement on Wednesday.

Focus mode is available on all devices that currently have Digital Wellbeing and parental controls settings, including new phones launching with Android 9 and Android 10. (IANS)