Google shares closed higher in the US Tuesday, amid a growing number of reports suggesting the internet giant is working on a censored version of its search engine that fits mainland China rules.
However, Chinese tech firm Baidu said that if Google does re-enter the Chinese internet market, the US business will not be number one.
Google shares ended the US Tuesday session 1.47% higher at $1,255.84. The stock is also a little higher in after-hours trading.
China-compliant Google search
Google has previously been available in mainland China, but exited in 2010 after it expressed some concerns over China’s extreme online censorship rules. Since then though, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai has specifically said that he wants Google to be available to everyone, including users in China.
The initial report that Google is working on an app that will help its search engine comply with mainland China’s rules was written by The Intercept. That was followed up with a variety of other stories and sources stating the same thing.
According to a BBC report, Google made the following comments:
“We provide a number of mobile apps in China, such as Google Translate and Files Go, help Chinese developers, and have made significant investments in Chinese companies like JD.com. But we don't comment on speculation about future plans.”
Profits before principles?
China is a huge and largely untapped potential market for Google. However, the tech business has already shown that it’s not entirely comfortable with the high level of rules and censorship over what the Government there allows its citizens to see online.
Does that mean that Google has decided to put potential financial gains ahead of supporting the internet freedom that’s available in so many other countries? That’s what some lobby groups think.
“For the world’s biggest search engine to adopt such extreme measures would be a gross attack on freedom of information and internet freedom,” said Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International.
“In putting profits before human rights, Google would be setting a chilling precedent and handing the Chinese government a victory,” he added.