Google is working on a new Android search app for China which would restrict results the country’s government deems inappropriate, The Intercept reported.
The project, code-named Dragonfly, would see the company complying with China’s censorship laws by automatically removing websites blocked by the government from search results. The Intercept added some so-called “sensitive queries” may not return results at all.
Work on the app has been underway for more than a year, and a preliminary version has already been demonstrated to Chinese officials, the report said. Launch of a final version could come in the next six to nine months, pending government approval.
In a statement to Bloomberg, Google declined to comment on its future plans.
The app would mark a serious about-face for the tech giant, after it pulled back from China in 2010 citing censorship concerns.
Its lack of presence in China is a major gap in Google’s reach, especially considering data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech showed the company’s Android operating system accounted for 80 per cent of the smartphone OS market share in the three months to end-June.
In December 2017, regulators in China said Google would only be welcomed back into the country if it abided by Chinese laws and regulations.