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11 Mar, 2010 03:34

Google backed up by US law makers in dispute with China

China is a threat to cyber security and Internet freedom, both of which America should promote. That's according to the US Congress, which praised Google's decision to fight against Chinese web censorship.

“We no longer feel comfortable censoring our search results in China,” said Nicole Wong, vice president and deputy general counsel of Google Inc. at the hearings at the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.

In January, Google suddenly announced it would no longer filter search results on its Chinese search engine. The company declared it was prepared to pull out of China if Beijing refused to accept that position.

The statement came after Google uncovered a series of sophisticated cyber attacks in the middle of December, according to the company, aimed at its source code and at email accounts used by Chinese human rights activists. Although, Google did not have information regarding who was carrying out those attacks, they hoped that the Chinese government would work with US officials to investigate the issue.

The Internet giant has continued to filter results on Google.cn, while awaiting the outcome of discussions with Chinese authorities.

Facing all these difficulties, the corporation has decided to turn to US law-makers in a call to action for Internet freedom. Wong said that the free flow of information will help promote foreign assistance efforts and diplomacy.

“China is the origin of extensive and malicious cyber activities that target the United States” claimed Larry Wortzel, commissioner of the US and China Economic and Security Review, during the hearings. “The vast majority of this activity is directed by the Chinese government”.

Most of the lawmakers praised Google’s call as a principled and public commitment to
doing the right thing, but some believe the company should follow their own principles and follow through on what they have announced.

“Google has yet to follow through and to stop self censoring, and our praise shouldn’t be for intent, it should be for accomplishing,” said Congressman Dana Rochrabacher.

Some experts say that Google would never leave such a lucrative market.

Since threatening to leave China, Google has hanged its tone. “We are currently reviewing our business operations there,” said Wong. She emphasized that an open Internet should be part of the US trade agenda because of the economic impact censorship has on companies, and businesses in every sector use the Internet to reach their customers.

“Unfortunately, corporate America cannot be trusted on making moral decisions and decisions based on freedom and democracy when it comes to their corporate profit,” Dana Rochrabacher told RT after the hearing. “We should do everything we can to make sure that corporations do not acquiesce to the mandates of a dictatorship in Beijing.”

Google expects an outcome soon from its talks with China over the censorship and hacking dispute, Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said on Wednesday according to Reuters.com.

"I'm going to use the word 'soon', which I will not define otherwise," Schmidt told journalists at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit. "There is no specific timetable. Something will happen soon," he added, without elaborating.

Chinese officials have said they are working on resolving the dispute.

RT contributor Wayne Madsen believes the Google’s call is nothing but double standards as the White House makes its own power grab into cyberspace.

“It is interesting that the Obama administration says it’s in favor of net neutrality,” Madsen said. “But at the same time we see them making a power grab into cyberspace, most recently with this deal that was worked up between the NSA and Google, where it is going to be a co-operative relationship. And they have got the same deals with other high-tech companies in the information technology world.”

Webster Tarpley, an investigative journalist and author, thinks that Google will have to obey Chinese laws or be ousted from the market.

“Microsoft is already signaling that they are much more anxious to stay than Google,” Tarpley told RT. “And when we say ‘Google’, we should realize that they are now a cartel with the national security agency, the NSA, and their form of functioning is an arm of the US intelligence community. The US is trying to go to the WTO, the World Trade Organization, with the complaint against China. So I think there is nothing coming there but conflict.”

“One of the things that is happening here is the vast exaggeration of what you can do with the computer,” Tarpley added. “It seems to me they want you to believe you can shut down power plants, you can blow nuclear reactors, you can stop trains and planes from taking off. There are no really recorded cases of this. You have people who are hacking into banks and things like this, but not anything more. It’s the CIA and Wall Street Journal that want you to think that there are these threats. And it sounds a little bit like “Saddam can strike London in 45 minutes”… The other thing we are doing is talking the legend and the logic of the Cold War, and, indeed, of nuclear confrontation, and bringing this into the new cyber field. We are talking about deterrence, retaliation, that’s the preparation of the whole new field of conflict on the part of people who are interested in this conflict. They make money off of it; they make their careers off of it. It also is their ideology.”