Online firms defend China operations

Google and other major US technology companies insisted that their products benefit Chinese citizens despite government restrictions and warnings that online censorship is spreading, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report, quoting Google, said providing some information is better than giving none at all.

But human rights groups warned that heavy filtering of Web content is increasing in developing countries, with some using China as a model, the report said.

The Associated Press report also said China denied it censored Internet sites at all, saying criminal investigations are unrelated to freedom of expression.

Human rights groups have sharply criticized Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft, along with Cisco, accusing them of helping the Chinese government restrict information and crack down on dissidents, the report said.

Amnesty International said it was planning to deliver a petition on Internet freedom to organizers of the UN-organized Internet Governance Forum in Athens.

Rights groups and related agencies warned that online censorship is spreading globally among repressive governments, the report further said.