With serious criticism over the 'censored' search engine that was being developed for the Chinese market, Google reportedly has shut down a data collection system, which was a key to develop the search project that was code-named 'Dragonfly'.
In context to report in The Intercept on Tuesday, this move comes after major Google employees raised internal complaints that the project was kept as a secret from them.
The report found that Google employees, working on the Dragonfly project, "had been using a Beijing-based website to help develop blacklists for the censored search engine".
In 2008, Google had bought a website (www.265.com) that happen to be a Chinese-language web directory service, from a billionaire Chinese entrepreneur.
The report said, "265.com provides its Chinese visitors with news updates, information about financial markets, horoscopes, and advertisements for cheap flights and hotels."
"As The Intercept reported in August, it appears that Google has used 265.com as a honeypot for market research, storing information about Chinese users' searches before sending them along to Baidu," the report added.
A large dataset showing queries that Chinese people entered into the 265.com search engine was obtained by Google engineers working on Dragonfly.
Now, the teams working on Dragonfly are no longer gathering search queries from mainland China.
"Significantly, several groups of engineers have now been moved off of Dragonfly completely, and told to shift their attention away from China to instead work on projects related to India, Indonesia, Russia, the Middle East and Brazil," the report claimed.
Google has yet to comment on the report.
The Google CEO Sundar Pichai, last week told the US House Judiciary Committee that the company didn't have any plans of launching a search product in China.
In November, Google employees wrote in an open letter to the company that their "opposition to Dragonfly is not about China: we object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be".
"Dragonfly in China would establish a dangerous precedent at a volatile political moment, one that would make it harder for Google to deny other countries similar concessions," they wrote.
Google had earlier launched a search engine in China in 2006 but pulled the plug in 2010, citing Chinese government efforts to limit free speech and block websites.
(With IANS inputs)