22 June 2007

To protect internet freedom, Google suggests bribery more effective than finger-wagging

The Google Public Policy blog presents a new way to deal with governments imposing significant internet censorship on their populations:

Just as the U.S. government has, in decades past, utilized its trade negotiation powers to advance the interests of other U.S. industries, 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.

A useful approach, based on the idea that heavy-handed governments will be less offended and more cooperative if this issue is presented as 'trade negotiation' rather than 'human rights.' Google goes out of their way to say that it's not a 'political thing,' it's just about growing the information industry, but for those to care to go a level deeper, it nicely highlights the connection between freely flowing information, freely flowing trade, and increasing well-being.

(FYI, here's a link to the Top Ten Most Censored Countries, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.)