Google, Microsoft, Yahoo Seek Help With China

In letters to a Congressional Human Rights Caucus investigating Chinese censorship, the companies urged the U.S. government to take up the issue during talks with Beijing.
In addressing a Microsoft conference in Portugal Tuesday, Brad Smith, general counsel and senior vice president for the company, called for collaboration among Internet companies on censorship, and unveiled Microsoft's policy on blogs hosted on MSN. Smith said the company would remove access to blog content when it received a government-issued, legally binding notice indicating that the material violated local laws.

Google on Wednesday declined to say whether it was in discussions with Microsoft on an industry framework for doing business in China or other countries that restrict information.

"Google is engaged in discussions with other companies in the industry, but at this time, we don't have anything further to elaborate on," the spokesman said.

In the caucus letter, McLaughlin acknowledged that filtering by Chinese Internet service providers had caused the Chinese version of to be unavailable about 10 percent of the time. The Google News service was almost never available, and the company's image search was available only half the time.

As a result, the company was forced to launch a domestic version,, in order to remain competitive in the market, where it faces stiff competition from Yahoo and China's leading search engine Baidu.

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