U.S. Government Steps Up as Google Backs Down
The fallout of the China Google drama picked up a notch yesterday, just as things seemed to be cooling off, with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech on Internet freedom ruffling some feathers in Beijing.
“Censorship should not be in any way accepted by any company from anywhere,” Clinton said yesterday in Washington. “American companies need to make a principled stand. This needs to be part of our national brand. I’m confident that consumers worldwide will reward companies that follow those principles.”
“Some countries have erected electronic barriers that prevent their people from accessing portions of the world’s networks,” she said in words that clearly ring true in China. “They have expunged words, names, and phrases from search engine results. They have violated the privacy of citizens who engage in nonviolent political speech.”
Chinese officials in Beijing rejected Mrs. Clinton’s call to remove Internet restrictions in their country, adding that such actions were harmful to bilateral relations.
“We urge the U.S. side to respect facts and stop using the so-called freedom of the Internet to make unjustified accusations against China,” read a statement posted on the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website today.
James Fallows, as always, also does a great job discussing and analyzing the implications of the speech on his blog.
Meanwhile, Google Inc. is currently amid talks with Beijing officials as they continue to follow Chinese laws, meaning the censoring of search results.
“We’ve made a strong statement that we wish to remain in China,” Google CEO Eric Schmidt said yesterday, while also adding that in “a reasonably short time from now we will be making some changes there.”