In light of the backlash Google received this year after thousands of its employees signed a petition against a $10-million contract with the United States military, the company has not conferred the existence of the project.
"There's a lot of angst internally".
The story also says knowledge of these moves within the company has been restricted to only a few top executives.
A Google spokesman declined to confirm or deny the existence of the project.
"Google said it wouldn't bow to Beijing's censorship, it should stick to its word, especially now that it's canceled its partnership with our military", Cotton said, referencing the company's decision in June not to renew an A.I. contract with the Pentagon. Furthermore, Google's ability to deliver censored search might convince other governments to require similar apps to allow Google to operate in those countries. It will set a awful precedent for many other companies who are still trying to do business in China while maintaining the principles of not succumbing to China's censorship.
"China is a tremendous opportunity for any company because it is by far the single largest homogeneous market", said Kai Fu Lee, who headed Google's China operations before the company left in 2010.
Around eight years ago, Google had withdrawn from the Chinese market to protest against the censorship in the country.
Patrick Poon, a Hong Kong-based researcher with human rights group Amnesty International, stated that Google's sudden willingness to work with regimes that censor information could be a "big disaster for the information age".
But others "said that boycotting the country did little to change the Chinese government or 'bring any positive change, '" and objected to the exclusion of one-fifth of the world's population from access to Google's information technology.
The plan, which was criticized by human rights advocates, comes as China has stepped up scrutiny of business dealings involving USA tech firms including Facebook Inc, Apple Inc and Qualcomm Inc amid intensifying trade tensions between Beijing and Washington. Obviously American news organizations such as The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are completely banned as well.
Andy Tian, a tech executive who formerly led mobile strategy and partnerships for Google in China, said the Chinese tech companies that now dominate search can't compete with Google's product.
Google had cried foul over what it said were cyber attacks aimed at its source code and the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.
China already has well-developed Google alternatives, most notably Baidu, a company that has thrived without having to worry about the Silicon Valley giant as a competitor.
Rubio was referring to Google's recent declaration that it would never build artificial-intelligence tools for weapons or programs that could cause harm.
It came on Google's table in the spring of a year ago.