Google calls for Western nations to challenge Chinese censorship

GOOGLE called on Western nations to challenge restrictions in China and other countries yesterday on the free flow of information over the internet as a threat to free trade.

In a policy statement the search engine firm said: “More than 40 governments now engage in broad-scale restriction of online information, a tenfold increase from just a decade ago. These actions unnecessarily restrict trade, and left unchecked, they will almost certainly get worse.”

With worldwide internet commerce projected to reach $1 trillion soon, it is important to thousands of US companies that China and other nations be allowed to censor or restrict information only in exceptional circumstances, Google said.

David Weller, a lawyer who helped Google prepare the paper, said the company hoped to get countries thinking about government restrictions on the internet in economic as well as human rights terms.

Weller added that more companies now relied on the ability “to move data around the world with a minimum of government restriction”.

Google has had rocky relations with China since it announced in January it would no longer censor search results.