Date
9 December 2018
Google is facing a lot of questions over its reported plan to offer a censored version of its search engine for the China market. Photo: Reuters
Google is facing a lot of questions over its reported plan to offer a censored version of its search engine for the China market. Photo: Reuters

Google China plan prompts inquiry from US lawmakers

A group of US lawmakers questioned Google if it would comply with China’s internet censorship and surveillance policies should it re-enter the Chinese search engine market, Reuters reports.

In a letter to the tech giant on Thursday, 16 members of the US House of Representatives, including liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, said they had “serious concerns” about Google’s potential China move.

The letter asked if Google would “ensure that individual Chinese citizens or foreigners living in China, including Americans, will not be surveilled or targeted through Google applications,” according to the report.

Representative David Cicilline, a Democrat and signer of the letter, wrote on Twitter that “Google should not be helping China crack down on free speech and political dissent.”

Other signers include Representative Michael McCaul, a Republican who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee.

Google could face questions about China when it testifies on privacy issues before a Senate panel on Sept. 26.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, said on Tuesday that Google would be invited to testify on a number of issues.

Google’s main search platform has been blocked in China since 2010, but it has been attempting to make new inroads into the market.

More than 1,000 Google employees, six US senators and at least fourteen human rights groups have written to the company expressing concern about its China ambitions.

Google declined to comment directly on the lawmakers’ letter or the resignations but said in a statement that it had been “investing for many years to help Chinese users”.

It described its “work on search” for China as “exploratory” and “not close to launching.”

Reuters reported last month that Google plans to seek government clearance to provide a version of its search engine in China that blocks some websites and search terms.

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CG/RC

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