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The information gathered from 265. com supplied the foundation for Google'' s secret, Chinese censorship-friendly, mobile search app.
Image: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto by means of Getty Images

More info is dripping out about simply how Google is preparing to return to the Chinese market with a mobile online search engine application that complies to the nation’s censorship laws.

The Intercept very first broke this story when a whistleblower offered them documents detailing the secret censored search job (codenamed Dragonfly). Inning accordance with them, a neglected Google acquisition from 2008 — 265. com — has actually been silently setting the structure for the undertaking.

Back in June of 2008, Google obtained the Chinese site 265. com, which Chinese web business owner Cai Wensheng, called “ King of the Webmasters, ” established in 2003. Cai is the existing chairman and creator of the business behind the popular selfie app Meitu . As an early domain financier, Cai “ discovered it annoying to need to type domain in English, ” inning accordance with a 2010 Wall Street Journal profile. He set up exactly what amounts to an early-internet web directory site, or daohang — which approximately equates to navigation — as they’ re understood in China. His web website, 265. com, which supplied Chinese web users with a list of popular site links right on its homepage, was an immediate success.

A screengrab of 265. com as it looks since August 2018

Image: 265. com

With the success of sites like 265. com and China’ s search huge Baidu running its own web directory site with its acquisition of, Google introduced Google Daohang in March 2007. Simply a couple of months later on, reports spread out that Google had actually gotten 265. com. At the time, Google and Cai rejected the acquisition, however they did confess the 2 celebrations have a organisation relationship . Cai’ s 265. com was powering its search function with Google search advertisements .

In June 2008, a year following the acquisition reports, Cai offered 265. com to Google for a concealed amount. 10 years later on, the information Google has actually been gathering from Chinese users ’ searches on 265. com is being utilized as the structure for the Chinese censorship-friendly search task they began establishing in 2015. (Google presently doesn’ t run an online search engine in China, so the information is sent out to Baidu to render the real search inquiry outcomes.)

According to files, Google’ s engineers are utilizing this information to establish a list of sites obstructed in China in order to supply the most pertinent, non-blocked search results page for inquiries in its brand-new search app. There’ s apparently currently a working, practical variation of this censored search app.

It’ s essential to keep in mind that when Google got 265. com in 2008, they were still running their online search engine in China, which introduced in 2006. The business would continue running the site for another 2 years. Pointing out the nation’s censorship and speech laws, Google pulled their search operations from the nation in 2010.

But Google never ever actually left China. After shutting down its Chinese online search engine at the start of the years, Google still, 265. com aside, openly kept a Chinese existence. The business primarily ran an advertisement operation for business in China aiming to market internationally, along with establishing advertising-related items.

In order to run an organisation in China, tech business are needed to acquire a Internet Content Provider license from the Chinese federal government. As it’ s hard for foreign companies to acquire this license, Google has actually long partnered with Chinese IT business Back in the early years of, Google really ran straight off of’ s license, even declaring the Chinese business was momentarily running its online search engine. Dealing with extreme examination from the Chinese federal government and the media over this license plan, in 2007 Google formed a genuine joint endeavor business with — the Beijing Guxiang Information and Technology Co.

Because of the need of that license, Google has actually preserved that joint endeavor and has actually been running in China under the name Beijing Guxiang Information and Technology Co. since. After the closed down of, Google’ s Chinese marketing business has actually been operating under the joint endeavor business along with, low and behold, 265. com. A whois search of the 265. com domain, which supplies a record of the existing domain registrant info, brings up Beijing Guxiang Information and Technology Co. as the registrant company.

A substantial variety of Google workers are apparently none too pleased about Google’ s job abiding by Chinese censorship laws. This newest news, that the business has actually long been gathering information for a minute much like this, definitely won’ t make spirits amongst these employees any much better.

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