Google pushes ahead with WTO censorship case

Robert Clark
14 Jun 2010

Remember the white paper on internet censorship the Chinese dropped last week?

It didn’t say anything we hadn’t heard many times before.

China loved the net, its huge internet population enjoyed freedom of expression online, but needed to set certain rules in the name of “state security.”

What it didn’t explain was why it suddenly felt the need to put all this in writing.

But with Google confirming that it is pushing ahead with a WTO case against Chinese censorship, it is looking like an early shot in a very long war.

Reuters reports that Robert Boorstin, Google's director of corporate and policy communications, told a conference last week the company is working with the US Trade Representative, the State and Commerce departments and the EU on a case that argues that censorship is a trade barrier.

Google aimed to show that censorship resulted in fewer search pages, limiting the capacity of the company to compete fully against China's Baidu, Boorstin said.

But he warned that the complaint, which would be the first of its kind in the WTO, was in its early stages.

“I would not be looking for a conclusion in the near future.”

European Commission vice-president Neelie Kroes said last month that China’s censorship was a trade barrier and should be investigated by the WTO.

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