Google Argues That Chinese Censorship Was "Trade Dispute"

A Google representative has announced that the web censorship policies adopted by China can be classified as 'Trade Dispute' as local companies benefit when the government restricts the operations of foreign companies.

At the beginning of the year, search engine Google had reported that the company was the target of a sophisticated cyber attack, in which cyber criminals hacked into the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

Google had warned on its blog that the company will put a stop to its China operations if the Chinese government does not allow it to work in a censorship free environment as the cyber attack was traced back to China.

However, now, Bloomberg.com has reported that the Obama administration is planning to launch an official complaint against China with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) pertaining to the country's stringent web censorship policies.

Illinois Senator Richard Durbin has announced that he plans to pass a legislation that will allow the government to prosecute US internet companies if they violate the human rights of their customers when a foreign government asks them to do so.

But the senator also added that “I recognize that the technology industry faces difficult challenges when they deal with repressive governments.”

Our Comments

That is a weird strategy adopted by the Obama administration and Google. It will be interesting to see whether China will also choose to adopt a similar stance towards the US. Could China retaliate with verbal criticisms of the US or a counter complaint at the WTO?

Related Links

Google says China's web censorship is a 'trade issue'

(BBC)

U.S. Could Challenge China on Google's Behalf at WTO

(PC World)

Web Firms Under Fire to Protect Human Rights

(WSJ)

Google: 'no timetable' on China talks

(The Register)