U.S. argues its case against Internet censorship; Still unclear if Google will leave China
U.S. officials and lawmakers took more action this week in the nation’s fight against online censorship around the world.
U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said the nation is looking into ways to challenge China’s restrictions on Internet use. Two lawmakers, Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.) and Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.) created the Global Internet Freedom Caucus, a group in Congress focused on fighting censorship on the Web. They also introduced a bill that would give grants and incentives to companies and researchers who create technologies that fight censorship.
Yet despite fresh comments from Google chief executive Eric Schmidt and another company executive, it’s still unclear whether the seacrh giant will exit China any time soon or will choose to negotiate a solution with officials in Beijing.
Nicole Wong, Google's deputy general counsel, told the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday that the company stands by its pledge in January that it would no longer censor search results in China and that if it were to forced to continue doing so, it would leave.
“[If] the option is that we will shutter our .cn property and leave the country, we are prepared to do that," she said.
Schmidt, meanwhile, said Google was close to making a decision. He said at a news conference Wednesday in Abu Dhabi that the company wants to stay in China and is working on a resolution with the Chinese government to stay.
"There is no specific timetable. Something will happen soon," he added, without elaborating. Here is Reuters' full account.
Chinese officials have said they were working with Google to resolve the dispute.
Kirk, meanwhile, said he is talking to other American companies with operations in China to understand how practices like censorship affect their businesses. At the same time, he said U.S. trade officials are "trying to make our own determination whether we believe in fact this is not [World Trade Organization] compliant and if the best resolution is to go forward and file an appeal."
A case challenging censorship practices that affect Google and other Internet providers that operate in China would be the first of its kind at the WTO, according to a report by Reuters.
March 11, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
Categories: Google , International
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