Hennessy, like Google CEO Sundar Pichai,framed the company’s consideration of a censored search product through the lens of it being a better option than current domestic products, like the local search engine Baidu.
“The question that I think comes to my mind then, that I struggle with, is are we better off giving Chinese citizens a decent search engine, a capable search engine even if it is restricted and censored in some cases, than a search engine that’s not very good?” Hennessy said. “And does that improve the quality of their lives?”
Hennessy, a former president of Stanford University, said that he didn’t have a good answer.
There’s no doubt it’s a big market. As of August, China had 800 million internet users.
Pichai has repeatedly said that Google’s plans for a censored search app in China are in their “early stages,” and recently equated them with how the company must follow “right-to-be-forgotten laws” in Europe. Critics called it a false comparison.
Pichai has also said that in any country where Google operates, it must balance its values â “providing users access to information, freedom of expression and user privacy” â with obeying the local laws.