For readers who missed the damning series of leaks sketching out the scope of the project, “Dragonfly” is intended to be a censored search engine that would block results for queries that the Chinese government considered sensitive, like the Mandarin phrases for “human rights” and “student protest”. It would also require Chinese users to log in with their credentials before searches can be run, ensuring that the Communist Party can log and examine a comprehensive record of search activity.
But while Pichai acknowledged that “Dragonfly” would censor some search terms, ultimately, Google would be able to serve well over “99%” of queries. While it’s unclear how Pichai arrived at this metric, we imagine there aren’t too many Chinese citizens sitting at their terminals Googling “Nobel Peace Prize” over and over again.
Given that the mainland market harbors hundreds of middle-class users, whose personal data Google and its tech rivals are eager to exploit for profits, Pichai said Google was obligated to “think hard” about the problem of returning to China, and that US companies shouldn’t scuttle what could be an enormously profitable initiative just because it would require making a few ethically dubious concessions to a totalitarian state.
Giving up the Waze navigation app wasn’t fun, but that was the last Google-owned service I used — and that was two years ago.
For search I get generally good results from DuckDuckGo, with Microsoft’s Bing as the occasional fallback. DropBox and Apple’s iCloud are fine (if not as fully featured) for cloud storage and file creation/sharing. And I’ve relied on HostingMattersfor my domain and email needs since 2002 with nothing but great service.