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Last Updated:[04-03-2010 06:58:45 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

WTO Could be a Stage to Resolve Google-China Faceoff

tradenews At the behest of Google, the Obama administration is reviewing the options of complaining to the World Trade Organization (WTO) over the Chinese censorship of Google Inc., the search engine powerhouse and other affected companies. The alleged Chinese action is believed to have infringed upon the WTO laws which provided a level playing field for both foreign and domestic businesses alike in the internet domain.

The US government is understood to have responded to the call by Google to include Internet Access Freedom (IAF) as an international trade policy of the country. Nicole Wong, Google Vice President and Deputy General Counsel had urged earlier an open internet should be part of the US trade agenda as economic impact of censorship was huge on e-commerce as well as other companies which used Web services.

In January, Google.cn, the China version of the Google search engine announced it was considering pulling out of China after its portal along with some other 20 tech companies including Adobe, Yahoo and Intel was attacked by allegedly state-sponsored hackers. Though China has denied any such interception, but some companies who were victims of these attacks claim they have ample evidence to prove the government’s hand in this deplorable crime.

Google felt betrayed by the attacks, which resulted in the firm losing some intellectual property, despite compromising on internet freedom during the time of launch by signing an agreement with China in 2006. Under the controversial bargain, Google agreed to censor search results by prompting the users at the bottom of censored pages that results were withheld at the request of the Chinese government.

However, approaching the WTO to settle the issues related to the Chinese internet policies does not ensure any speedy outcome as trade disputes before the global trade body normally takes two or more years to litigate and appeal. Incidentally, according to the China Internet Network Information Center, a government agency that registers online domain names, China is the world’s biggest Internet market, with 384mn Web users at the end of 2009.

By Jose Roy

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