Google Testifying To Congress Over China

    January 26, 2006

It looks like Google’s on its way to Washington and I don’t mean Redmond either. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), chairman of the International Operations and Human Rights Subcommittee, plans to convene hearings on February 13th as part of an investigation into Chinese business dealings.

Smith has championed human rights, occasionally to the chagrin of his own party leaders, during his 25-year tenure in Congress. He intends to talk to Google, Yahoo and Microsoft over the companies’ decisions to submit to China’s rules regarding issues like censorship on the Internet.

“It is astounding that Google, whose corporate philosophy is don’t be evil,’ would enable evil by cooperating with China’s censorship policies just to make a buck,” said Smith, who has been a leading human rights advocate since being elected to Congress. “China’s policy of cutting off the free flow of information is prohibitive for the growth of democracy and the rule of law. Many Chinese have suffered imprisonment and torture in the service of truth – and now Google is collaborating with their persecutors.”

Smith comments vigorously questioned Google’s and the others motives in doing business in China and suggest they price they pay for that business is too high. Microsoft in their zeal to please China censored a lot of material. Yahoo even went so far to give information to the Chinese in order to arrest them.

As Google fought valiantly to protect privacy, many felt the current move to China wiped away all that goodwill. Many in the tech industry are losing faith in their hero, Google, since they opened up much more to China,

“Internet companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft attract some of the best and brightest minds to develop cutting edge technology that can be used for good throughout the world,” said Smith. “The ability to communicate openly is the key to unlock the door to freedom for those who cannot feel its touch, and these companies can help to provide that.”

Then there’s always the national security issue. As charges of the Chinese government hacking into defense department computers and British parliament computers continue to surface where do these companies like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and all the others place their loyalties. If it becomes a matter of national security, would these companies get out? Would they assist their own country over China? I may be throwing a little gas on the fire, but this is certainly something to consider in today’s environment.

“Years ago we fought to give Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia the capacity to empower the voices of freedom throughout communist countries and look at the success that followed,” said Smith, who authored the law to authorize Radio Free Asia to broadcast 24 hours daily. “Americans need to empower those who seek the path of democracy, not stifle their ability to speak.”

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John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.