White House backs `free Internet` in Google-China row
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Last Updated: Thursday, January 14, 2010, 09:24
  
Washington: The White House said that it backs the "right to a free Internet" and confirmed it has held talks with Google which is threatening to pull out of China over censorship.

Google said on Wednesday it was still filtering Internet search results in China in compliance with law there and would not specify when it plans to defy Chinese censors.

As of late Wednesday, no changes had been made to the California search giant's self-imposed online search filters in China, according to Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker.

Stricker answered "Yes" when asked by a news agency on Wednesday whether Google is still filtering search results at google.cn.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said he would not go into details about the administration's discussions with Google, which announced on Tuesday it would no longer filter search results from China on its Web search engine.

"We have had conversations and discussions with them about what they have talked about yesterday," Gibbs told reporters here. "I don't want to get much further afield than that."

"The President and this administration have beliefs about the freedom of the Internet," Gibbs added, noting that President Barack Obama had expressed them in China last year.

"The right of a free Internet is what many of you heard the President talk about in China," Gibbs said.

During a visit to China in November, Obama pushed for an unshackled Internet saying he was a "strong supporter of open Internet use" and a "big supporter of non-censorship”.

Gibbs also recalled that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had asked for an explanation from China for what Google said was a wave of "highly sophisticated" cyberattacks aimed at Chinese human rights activists.

"As the Secretary of State said, we look forward to the response from the Chinese," the White House spokesman said.

China said on Wednesday it was seeking more information on Google's move.

The state-run Xinhua news agency quoted an anonymous official at the press office of the State Council, the nation's cabinet, as saying that Internet authorities were looking for clarification of Google's statement.

"It is still hard to say whether Google will quit China or not. Nobody knows," the official was quoted as saying.

Google said China-based cyber spies struck the Internet giant and at least 20 other unidentified firms in an apparent bid to hack into the e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists around the world.

The Mountain View, California-based company, whose motto is "Don't be evil," said the cyberattacks originating from China and Web censorship demands were forcing it to review its business operations in China.

Bureau Report


First Published: Thursday, January 14, 2010, 09:24


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