Google is taking an unusual tack on Internet censorship. The search engine giant has decided that censorship is a trade barrier, and wants the U.S. government todo something about it as an economic, rather than political, issue. According to the company, one of their representatives had met several times with members of the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to address the issue. Given Google’s business model, which is driven by ads, their take on censorship becomes moreunderstandable. If a Google page isn’t displayed, there are no ads, and no income. But it seems as if the government isn’t convinced that censorship has created trade barriers. Aspokesperson from the USTR said that censorship is treaded as a human rights issue, and comes under the State Department. Of course, Google itself has come under fire for agreeing to censorits Chinese site, although the company has stated that this was the only way the Chinese government would allow users to access Google pages. On the whole, however, human rights advocates havebeen pleased with Google’s performance. But at the company’s annual meeting, in response to a shareholder resolution that the company renounce all censorship, the board recommended a voteagainst the move. There’s been a rise in countries adopting Internet censorship. Apart from China, Saudi Arabia, India, Singapore and Thailand are among the countries that either filteror entirely block web pages, in some cases the Google-owned YouTube. For now, Google will continue to try and persuade the government that censorship canbe an economic issue. “It’s fair to say that censorship is the No. 1 barrier to trade that we face,” said Google’s director of public policy and government affairs AndrewMcLaughlin.
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