Congressional leaders hail Google’s decision to stop censoring search results in China while criticising Microsoft for continuing to do so
Google earned lavish praise from a congressional panel for its 22 March decision to discontinue censoring search results in China, while lawmakers harshly condemned Microsoft for continuing the practice.
In an unexpected development for the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Internet domain host site GoDaddy.com announced that it will not be offering new .cn domain registrations in China after the Chinese government issued new requirements for information about registrants.
“There appears to be a recent increase in China’s surveillance and monitoring of the Internet activities of its citizens,” Christine Jones, general counsel for Go Daddy, told a panel consisting of nine senators and nine House members that monitors Chinese human rights. “We didn’t want to act as an agent of the Chinese government. We can’t let them be strong and us be weak all the time. We just have to stop it, and then we’ll start offering .cn domain names again.”
Rep. Chris Smith praised Go Daddy’s actions and called Google’s decision “a remarkable, historic and welcomed action.”
Google search rival Microsoft, meanwhile, wasn’t so popular. “They [Microsoft] need to get on the right side of human rights rather than enabling tyranny, which they’re doing right now,” Smith said.
Alan Davidson, Google’s director of public policy, called on lawmakers to enact legislation to deal with countries that censor searches and favor local competition over international competitors. “Governments need to develop a full set of new trade rules to address new trade barriers,” Davidson said. “We should continue to look for effective ways to address unfair foreign trade barriers in the online world: to use trade agreements, trade tools and trade diplomacy to promote the free flow of information on the Internet.”
Sen. Byron Dorgan also linked censorship and trade issues. ”China wants to participate in the marketplace of goods but keep the marketplace of ideas outside their country,” Dorgan said. “Only when China respects human rights and allows the free flow of ideas … only then will they be treated as a full member of the international community.”
In a brief exchange with Davidson, Dorgan was clearly disappointed when Davidson refused to disclose what information China censors, citing complex legal reasons.