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China’s ability to censor web will ebb, Google says
Published on: 2010-11-04
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China’s ability to censor Internet users may diminish as more of its people get online through mobile phones and other devices, Google Inc. Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt said.

"A billion phones that are trying to express themselves” will be difficult for government censors and content-blocking computers to overcome, Schmidt said yesterday during a panel discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Google, which operates the world’s largest Internet search engine, vowed to stop censoring Chinese search results in January after it determined that an attack on its servers originated from the country. In March, the company began routing users in mainland China through its site in Hong Kong. While critical of the approach, Chinese authorities renewed Google’s license to operate an Internet service in July.

"It’s always better for us to operate on behalf of the citizens in a country, rather than ‘Google versus the government,’” Schmidt said during a panel discussion on the use of technology by foreign governments and activists. Schmidt appeared with Jared Cohen, director of Google Ideas, the company’s public policy research arm.

"We don’t want to be seen as threatening the supremacy of government,” Schmidt said. “It’s just a bad deal.”

In addition to the so-called Great Firewall -- a group of Internet routers used by the Chinese government to block access to certain political information or other content deemed objectionable -- China also employs an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 government censors to expunge blogs and other Web postings, Schmidt said.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, rose $4.58 to $620.18 yesterday in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares are little changed in value this year.
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