Google Inc's legal chief called for pressure on governments that censor the Internet, such as China and Turkey, arguing that their blocking access to websites unfairly restrains U.S. businesses and would be unacceptable in physical trade. The remarks, by Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond, may inflame a touchy relationship with China, after the company threatened to stop censoring online searches in China earlier this year. “If this (Internet censorship) were happening with physical trade and manufacturing goods, we'd all be saying this violates trade agreements pretty fundamentally,” Drummond said at a public meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and other corporate executives at Google's headquarters in Silicon Valley, California. “In our view at Google it's high time for us to start really sinking our teeth into this one,” said Drummond. “We have great opportunities now with pending trade agreements to start putting some pressure on countries to recognize that Internet freedom not only is a core value — that we should be holding them to account from a human rights standpoint — but also that if you want to be part of the community of free trade, you are going to have to find a way to allow the Internet to be open.”
Google has had a rocky relationship with Chinese authorities since it announced in January that it would no longer censor search results in mainland China and accused Chinese hackers of orchestrating a sophisticated cyber attack on Google and other major U.S. companies. The incident exacerbated tensions between Washington and Beijing, which were also sparring over China's currency, U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and Tibet. U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton called for worldwide Internet freedoms and singled out China following Google's announcement.