A booth set up by Google at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai. Photo: AFP

The news website that first reported a Google project underway to re-enter the Chinese search engine market says that internal opposition to the plans has proven successful.

Google has been forced to shut down a data analysis system it was using to develop an offering tailored for China, The Intercept reported this week, citing two sources familiar with the effort.

Criticisms from within the company forced the decision, “effectively ending” the development of the censored search engine known as Dragonfly.

By using the Chinese 265.com web portal that Google purchased in 2008, engineers were able to cross-reference Mandarin-language Baidu search results with Google search results, compiling a list of banned websites to integrate into Dragonfly.

One of the internal disputes that followed The Intercept’s original scoop centered around the fact the Google engineers involved in the project were violating the company’s privacy protocol when they analyzed search queries of Chinese users.

After Google’s privacy team became aware of the situation they were “really pissed,” one Google source was quoted as saying.

“The 265 data was integral to Dragonfly,” said one source. “Access to the data has been suspended now, which has stopped progress.”

It is unclear whether the setback will end Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s quest to re-enter China – it is apparently one of his top priorities – but it looks like the originally reported launch target of January to April of next year has been indefinitely postponed.

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