Google may be changing its tune when it comes to the largest single market for internet users.
Some of Google's own employees were reportedly not happy about the prospect of offering a censored search to appease China's government.
The question remains if Google has any more chance to win the Chinese search engine market. Google co-founder Sergey Brin, whose parents brought him to the U.S.to escape communist Russian Federation, led a dramatic exit from mainland China in 2010 after the company refused to self-censor search content. Brin has stepped back from day-to-day operations and the internet giant is now run by Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai. Unfortunately, the Intercept is reporting on some internal documents that suggest Google is moving back in the other direction, and testing a censored version of its search engine for China.
A Google spokesperson declined to comment on their plans for the future. "Google often builds and tests different services that never become publicly available".
Not everyone is positive about the potential for Google to return to China.
The apps are dubbed as Maotai and Longfei and are still to receive the final approval from the Chinese government.
As per the report, Google's search app would automatically "identify and filter" all the content blocked by China's firewall.
Reports also claimed that the highly secretive project is only limited to a handful of high-level Google executives, including Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai.
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Patrick Poon, a Hong Kong-based researcher with human rights group Amnesty International, stated that Google's sudden willingness to work with regimes that censor information could be a "big disaster for the information age".
Separately, a Chinese official with knowledge of the plans said that Google has been in contact with authorities at the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) about a modified search program.
Although the new search engine is not guaranteed to be approved, the report pummeled Baidu shares.
There were an estimated 772 million internet users in China as of the end of a year ago, with internet availability sitting at only 55.8 percent of the population.
A separate report, by technology news site The Information on Wednesday, said that Google was developing a news-aggregation app for use in China that would comply with the country's censorship laws.
The Intercept spoke to a Google whistleblower who said they had ethical concerns about the project. There are a lot of countries that would gladly pay a pretty penny to censor the internet in their region.
At the time, Google co-founder Sergey Brin had issued the following statement to The Guardian explaining his stance against Chinese censorship - "It touches me more than other people having been born in a country that was totalitarian and having seen that for the first few years of my life". "We do not want to give users something that's illegal or something that's under our borderline".