A new report says Google is still secretly working on its censored China search engine but the company outright denies it
- Google's plan to release a censored search engine in China may not be over, according to a report by The Intercept on Monday.
- The project, known as Dragonfly, was reportedly sidelined by the company in December.
- A group of employees at Google has noticed that development on software code associated with Dragonfly has continued, with as many as 400 changes occurring between this January and February, according to the report.
- A Google spokesperson denied the report's claims.
Google's controversial plan to offer a censored search engine in China may not be dead after all, according to a report by The Intercept on Monday.
Typical development for the project involved between 150 to 500 code changes each month, one source told The Intercept.
Google rejects claims that work continues on Dragonfly, however.
In a statement to Business Insider on Monday, a Google spokesperson said: "This speculation is inaccurate. As we've said for many months, we have no plans to launch Search in China and there is no work being undertaken on such a project. Team members have moved to new projects."
The company shifted resources off of Dragonfly starting last December, according to a newly obtained memo by the Intercept. Many of these employees were likely moved to focus on products related to other emerging markets, like India, Indonesia, and Brazil.
The Intercept also reported that around 100 employees are still being paid from a "cost center" associated with Dragonfly, which means the company may still have a budget for the project.A Google spokesperson declined to comment on whether this cost center still exists.
Google has never completely shut down the idea of launching a censored search product in China, though CEO Sundar Pichai told Congress last December that "right now, there are no plans" for the company to do so.
"To the extent we approach a position like that, I will be fully transparent, including with policy makers here, and engage and consult widely," Pichai said at the time.
Since news of Google's censored search engine went public last summer, human rights groups such as Amnesty International have condemned the plans.
Internal strife at Google came to a head last November when a public petition signed by many current employees said it should cancel the project. "We deserve to know what we're building and we deserve a say in these significant decisions," the petition said.
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