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United States internet titans have long struggled with doing business in China, home of a "Great Firewall" that blocks content as seen fit by officials.

Google exited the Chinese mainland in 2010 after clashing with Beijing over the censorship of search results and a cyberattack on users of its Gmail email service.

The revelation comes from leaked internal Google documents which The Intercept accessed; the project has been underway since 2017 and was accelerated following Google CEO Sundar Pichai meeting with a top Chinese government official. In essence, it will be blacklisting certain websites and search terms regarding democracy, human rights, religion, and more.

Google is not commenting on "speculation about future plans". Google was also taking heat from the U.S. Congress for complying with the Chinese government's policies. But jumping back into China presents ethical issues for Google (GOOGL), which has long advocated a free and open internet. What is to stop Facebook and Twitter to approach the Chinese government again, and agreeing to send an error message every time one tries to tweet about, or write a post about an activist like Liu Xiaobo?

Despite pulling its search engine in 2010, Google now has more than 700 employees in China, according to the Times. CEO of Google Sunday Pichai is said to have already met with Chinese officials and the plans are now pending approval from mainland authorities.

The Intercept reports Google's new app could launch within six to nine months, though The Wall Street Journal and New York Times reported separately, citing anonymous sources, that the product is only being tested and may never be deployed. Patrick Poon, China researcher at Amnesty International, said that "it will be a dark day for internet freedom if Google has acquiesced to China's extreme censorship rules to gain market access".

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The Chinese version had already been demonstrated to Chinese government officials, who keep a tight lid on a wide variety of information, especially if it's critical of the government.

Censorship is set to continue indefinitely within China and seems to be getting more pervasive every year.

The app would censor search queries and results in compliance with China's Golden Shield Project, better known in the West at the Great Firewall of China. In addition, The Information reported that Google is developing a compliant Chinese news aggregation app as well.

Officially, the project will be a joint venture with a second, unnamed Chinese company, though all the work on development is occurring in Google's American offices.

Indeed, only approved content is allowed behind the so called "Great Firewall" of China for its 650 million Internet users.

"Google said it wouldn't bow to Beijing's censorship, it should stick to its word, especially now that it's canceled its partnership with our military", Cotton said, referencing the company's decision in June not to renew an A.I. contract with the Pentagon.


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