Google Wants U.S. to Weigh Challenging China in WTO

The Obama administration is considering taking China to the World Trade Organization for Internet censorship, calling it an “unfair barrier to trade.” Bloomberg reports:

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office is consulting with industry groups about China’s Internet policies, spokeswoman Carol Guthrie said. Two groups with links to Google, the Computer & Communications Industry Association and the First Amendment Coalition, have told the trade office that China’s restrictions on Web access and content discriminate against U.S. Internet companies and online commerce.

“There is a little bit of a Cold War going on here,” said Michael DeGolyer, a professor of government and international studies at Hong Kong Baptist University. “This is a way of putting pressure on China in a way that is going to be popular with many countries.”

Going to the WTO is “well worth consideration,” Nicole Wong, deputy general counsel of Google, operator of the most popular Internet search site, told reporters after a congressional hearing in Washington yesterday. Using censorship “in a manner that favors domestic Internet companies goes against basic international trade principles,” Wong told lawmakers.

At the congressional hearings today. Nicole Wong also said Google was still “weighing its options” on how to proceed in China after laying down an ultimatum over censorship of its Chinese search engine. See a report on the hearings from the LA Times blog.