AfterDawn: Tech news

Google working with U.S., European officials on censorship trade case

Written by James Delahunty @ 15 Jun 2010 12:45

Google working with U.S., European officials on censorship trade case Google Inc. is working with the U.S. State Department, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Commerce Department and European officials to help build a case arguing that censorship acts as a trade barrier, according to Robert Boorstin, Google's director of corporate and policy communications. The company shut its Chinese-language search engine this year because of a cyber attack and concerns about censorship.
The U.S. has been mulling such a WTO case as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has promoted Internet freedom as a basic human right in modern times. In the European Union, Neelie Kroes, the European Commissioner for Digital Agenda, has described the Chinese firewall as a trade barrier as long as it served to block communication for Internet users.

"Google believes very strongly, as do other companies, that censorship is a trade barrier," Boorstin said during a discussion hosted by the Media Access Project. He said the company wants to demonstrate that censorship means fewer search pages, and that limits the capacity for a company like Google to go to the Chinese and be on a level playing field with services like Baidu.

"Our goal is to maximize free expression and access to information," he said. "This is a very important piece of business for us."

A WTO case of this nature could take years to be resolved, so U.S. trade officials have suggested that direct talks with Beijing might yield results quicker.

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