Despite repeated denials and a possible political controversy, Google it seems is planning to launch a censored version of its Search app in China in the next six to nine months. According to a report by The Intercept, Google’s search engine chief, Ben Gomes held a meeting on July 18th to congratulate a room full of employees working on the so called Project Dragonfly. “We have to be focused on what we want to enable,” said Ben Gomes. “And then when the opening happens, we are ready for it.”
According to the leaked transcript, Gomes even highlighted the launch timeline, saying “While we are saying it’s going to be six and nine months [to launch], the world is a very dynamic place.” He also points to the current political climate as one of the reasons for not fixing a definitive timeline, while adding, “we want to be careful that we don’t miss that window if it ever comes.”
Since the time, when details about Project Dragonfly were first leaked in the press, it has received criticism from all fronts ranging from US senators to human rights groups to even the Vice President Mike Pence, who during a speech last week went on to denounce it outright. “Google should immediately end development of the Dragonfly app that will strengthen Communist Party censorship and compromise the privacy of Chinese customers,” he said.
Even Gomes and Google’s chief privacy officer, Kieth Enright have given statements in the press recently, indicating a soft denial on Google’s part. “Right now all we’ve done is some exploration, but since we don’t have any plans to launch something there’s nothing much I can say about it,” Gomes told BBC last month. While facing Republican lawmaker Ted Cruz, regarding the company's intentions to launch a new search engine in China, Mr Enright had also gone on record to say that the “product was not close to launch.”