Google tells US lawmakers it is weighing options on controversial China services

Google CEO Sundar Pichai in an August letter said the company is ‘thoughtfully considering a variety of options for how to offer services in China in a way that is consistent with our mission’

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 October, 2018, 4:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 October, 2018, 4:29am

Alphabet’s Google unit has told US lawmakers it is considering “a variety of options” for offering additional services in China, and says it has not decided whether it will release a controversial Communist-Party-overseen search engine in China.

The company has come under criticism after reports it is considering re-entering the Chinese search engine market and would agree to comply with China’s internet censorship and surveillance policies.

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In an August 31 letter to senators made public on Friday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote: “We hope to stay at the forefront of technology developments and believe that Google's tools could help to facilitate an exchange of information and learning that would have broad benefits inside and outside of China.

“Google has been open about our desire to increase our ability to serve users in China and other countries. We are thoughtfully considering a variety of options for how to offer services in China in a way that is consistent with our mission.”

He continued: “We are committed to promoting access to information, freedom of expression, and user privacy, as well as to respecting the laws of jurisdictions in which we operate. We seek to strike the right balance in each context.  

“We are approaching these issues deliberately, and whether we would or could release a search service in China remains unclear. Accordingly, we are not in a position to be able to answer detailed questions.

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“But we can confirm that our work will continue to reflect our best assessment of how best to serve people around the world, as set forth in our mission and our code of conduct. Of course, should we have something to announce in the future, we would be more than happy to brief you and your staff on those plans.”

Google declined to comment on the letter on Friday.