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'Internet censorship is trade barrier', says Google exec

Now that China licence is renewed, let the games commence (again)

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Google's top legal man wants to see pressure applied to governments - such as China's and Turkey's - that have strict internet censorship rules in place.

According to Reuters, David Drummond argued at a public meeting with US Trade Rep Ron Kirk and other Mountain View wonks at the Googleplex on Wednesday that such behaviour by individual countries was bad for US trade.

"Internet censorship is really a trade barrier, and is operating that way for US companies that are trying to do business abroad," he grumbled.

"If this were happening with physical trade and manufacturing goods, we'd all be saying this violates trade agreements pretty fundamentally."

His remarks probably won't be welcomed by Beijing officials, who in July renewed the ad broker's licence in China, after getting Google to agree to halt the automatic rerouting of its Google.cn search engine users to Hong Kong.

In effect, Google outsourced censorship to Beijing, which presumably continues to block any searches that do not meet its politically rigid criteria.

Drummond said that over 20 countries had, for example, blocked Google's YouTube video service and added it had been banned in Turkey for two years.

"In our view at Google it's high time for us to start really sinking our teeth into this one," he said.

"We have great opportunities now with pending trade agreements to start putting some pressure on countries to recognise that internet freedom not only is a core value - that we should be holding them to account from a human rights standpoint.

"But also that if you want to be part of the community of free trade, you are going to have to find a way to allow the internet to be open." ®

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