Google Scraps Dragonfly After Halting Chinese Data Collection

Google is one of the foremost technological giants in the world, but it seems like even they can’t crack China’s seemingly impenetrable digital fortress. China is well known for being a censorship heavy nation, which means that Google in its current shape and form simply can’t function as well as it needs to in that capacity. In light of this, Google launched the Dragonfly project. This was a prototype that was meant to evolve into a search engine that complied with China’s censorship policies.

Part of the process of building Dragonfly was collecting data on the search results that China was not censoring. This was done by setting up 265.com, a dummy search engine that routed searches through Baidu.com, a state sponsored search engine in China. The main benefit of this was that it allowed Google to collect data on what Chinese people tended to search for. This was very important for the launch of Dragonfly, because it would allow this search engine to provide Chinese people with the sort of services that they might have been looking for.

However, it seems like there is heavy opposition within Google towards the Chinese project. As a result of this fact, Google has scrapped the data collection project. This does not bode well for the Dragonfly project, because the team will struggle to get anywhere without the data that 265.com was collecting.

Sundar Pichai was recently grilled by the United States Congress, and on the point of whether or not Google would be launching a service in China Pichai stated that the company does not have any plans to launch in the country. This development seems consistent with that statement, because the Dragonfly project seems to be indefinitely postponed at least for the time being.

Google halted Chinese data collection program after Dragonfly backlash
Photo: Jeenah Moon / Reuters

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