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Google ‘not close’ to launching search engine in China, Pichai says – CNET

Google CEO Sundar Pichai says the company isn't close to launching a search product in China.

James Martin/CNET

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said Thursday that the internet giant is "not close to launching a search product in China" but is thinking about how to do more in the country, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Pichai's comments during a weekly all-hands employee meeting at Google's Mountain View, California, headquarters were apparently aimed at addressing reports the company is developing a new search engine that would allow the Chinese government to censor search results for its citizens.

The alleged secret project — reportedly codenamed Dragonfly — led to a protest by 1,000 Google employees who objected to their working toward supporting state-sponsored censorship.

The protest is the second initiated in recent months by Google employees objecting to one of the company's projects. Earlier this year, thousands protested the so-called Project Maven, a secret drone project for the US government that could weaponize their AI research, and some employees reportedly quit.

The New York Times first reported the employees' protest but confirm that Google is actually working on such a censored search engine. About 1,000 employees signed an open letter asking for the company to be transparent about the project and create an ethical review process for it.

Google left China eight years ago after similar concerns about censorship, but it appears the company is slowly pushing back into the Chinese market.

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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