Google may be indirectly lobbying the US government to take action over China’s censorship of its search services.
Two industry groups with close ties to the search giant are attempting to persuade the US Trade Representative’s office that trade is suffering because of the censorship, resulting in the US government mulling whether to report China to the World Trade Organisation for limiting global trading.
The Computer & Communications Industry Association and the First Amendment Coalition argue that by blocking Google, China is effectively discriminating against US firms, Bloomberg reports.
Nicole Wong, deputy general counsel of Google, notes that China’s censorship favours domestic search engines and ISPs, which goes against global trading principles.
A spokesman for the US Trade Representative’s office previously told Bloomberg Radio that the issue in China is more about free speech and freedom of information than it is about trade.
Google has voluntarily limited its search results since establishing Google.cn in 2006, however the firm announced in January that it would end self-imposed censorship, and would even consider pulling out of the country if it can’t find a way to supply unfiltered results.
The search firm’s patience ran out after it emerged that a large-scale cyber attack on it and other US companies, originated in China.
“These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered - combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web - have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China,” the firm stated.
Bloomberg reports that China’s Ministry of Commerce is already monitoring the situation, and that a spokesman said the Ministry was there to protect foreign firms, and enforce the country’s laws and regulations.
Despite apparently taking the moral high ground, the US government is itself considering imposing blocks on internet content.
It is already in talks with internal agencies, overseas governments, and key web firms over future internet policies, The Register reports.
Those talks could see legislation or regulation introduced, as part of a new breed of web policy.