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Google urges US government to treat Internet censorship as trade barrier

[JURIST] Google [corporate website] is urging the US government [press release], including the Departments of State and Commerce, the Office of the US Trade Representative [official websites], and various House and Senate committees, to fight the rise of global Internet censorship [JURIST news archive], according to Monday reports. Google's Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs Andrew McLaughlin said in a statement that censorship acts as a non-tariff trade barrier for industries that depend on the free flow of information to deliver their services across borders. He added:

For Google, censorship constitutes the single greatest trade barrier we currently face. [W]e’re not interested in forcing the US Constitution's First Amendment on other countries. Rather . . . we would like to see the federal government take to heart the interests of the information industries and treat the elimination of unwarranted censorship as a central objective of our bilateral and multilateral trade agendas in the years to come.
McLaughlin said that he hopes the US and other countries will enter into multilateral trade agreements and that trade in information services should be inherently free. McLaughlin also said that Google has appealed to other governments, including some members of the European Union. AP has more.

Internet censorship across the globe is in the rise, according to a study [JURIST report] released last month by the OpenNet Initiative (ONI) [advocacy website]. ONI found a "substantial growth in the scale, scope and sophistication" of Internet censorship worldwide. The study, focusing on state-mandated censorship, found that states generally justified censorship as protecting property rights and national security, preserving cultural and religious values, and fighting pornography and child exploitation.

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