Lokman Tsui, former Google lead of free expression for Asia-Pacific, believes the company's widely reported plan to launch a censored version of its Internet search engine for China is "a stupid, stupid move," the industry veteran revealed in a recent interview with The Intercept. While reports on the matter have been somewhat conflicting, most insiders with purported knowledge of the plan recently claimed Google will be looking to re-enter the Far Eastern country in the near future, with Mr. Tsui arguing that a scenario wherein the company gave in to Beijing's censorship demands would be "a moral victory" for the latter.
Google was already offering a censored Internet search engine in China between 2006 and 2010 but ended up pulling the service over aggressive censorship, with Baidu monopolizing the market shortly thereafter. A return to China would mark a major policy reversal on the tech giant's part, though no official statement on the matter has yet been provided. Earlier this summer, industry insiders claimed Google was working on a service that would fail to show any results when users typed in queries related to what the Chinese government deems sensitive topics, including inquiries about free speech, peaceful protests, human rights, and other aspects of modern democracies.
Mr. Tsui believes the Mountain View, California-based Internet juggernaut would be violating international human rights principles in any scenario that would see it launch a censored search service in China. The communications expert who worked at Google between 2011 and 2014 said it's likely the censorship effort — reportedly code-named project Dragonfly — would see some employees quit, much like some did earlier this year after finding out about the firm's drone intelligence program pursued in collaboration with Pentagon. Only several hundred individuals at the company were aware of the censorship endeavor prior to its existence being widely reported two weeks ago, with many already protesting the supposed effort, The Intercept claims. Google is already facing pressure from stateside legislators over its product partnerships with Chinese vendors such as ZTE and Huawei who were repeatedly accused of posing a national security risk to the West, especially following its decision to not renew its drone research contract with the Defense Department after witnessing an internal outcry.