Google abandons cloud computing product called “Isolated Region,” which would have allowed the company to operate cloud services in China.
According to Bloomberg, the search engine giant has abandoned its plans to develop and launch a cloud computing product that was specifically designed for many politically controversial countries, including China.
This isn’t the first initiative of the company to develop a product designed for the Chinese market. Dragonfly, a censored Chinese search product, was Google’s first move. Yet, when the product was revealed in the media back in 2018, Google shut it down later in December that year after over a thousand Google employees signed a letter protesting and asking for more transparency and consideration of human rights. And, now, Google abandons cloud computing product for China again.
The “Isolated Region” project was abandoned
According to Bloomberg, Google’s new initiative called the “Isolated Project” targeted markets from countries that intend to control the flow of data within their borders. The goal of the initiative was to separate its product from Google’s main cloud computing systems and network infrastructure. This would benefit governments and third-party companies. They can oversee the data moving through without fearing to put at risk the privacy of other Google business customers or individual users in different countries.
Rumors have it that the project was firsts started by the company as early as 2018, which is pretty much when Google’s first initiative started after many discussions within the company about finding a solution to provide cloud computing services in countries where the laws ask for government-controlled entities to act as the government’s business partner.
In January 2019, however, the company decided to pause the development of the product, which was specifically designed for the Chinese market. According to Bloomberg, the company chose to do so due to the tensions that existed at that point between the US and China as a result of President Trump’s trade war and existing concerns over doing business with the Chinese government in terms of privacy. Then, the search engine giant shifted its focus on developing a similar product for countries in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.
However, in May this year, the “Isolated Region” project was shut down entirely mostly due to the geopolitical relationships between the US and other countries, which are worsening day by day as a result of the ongoing global pandemic.
In a statement to The Verge, the company denies the idea that the US’s geopolitical relationship situation is the reason it has decided to cancel the project. Instead, the company argues its decision as it was motivated by conversations and inputs from government stakeholders in Europe and other countries around the globe.
The “Isolated project” wasn’t only designed to serve countries that censor internet platforms or practice authoritarian control over the flow of information that goes to and from personal devices and the web. Bloomberg reports that the cloud computing product could have also served Eu countries with strong privacy laws, allowing the search ending giant to operate its cloud computing product within these countries by giving oversight of the flow and storage of data to a government authority.