Google Chairman Eric Schmidt: China is “the most egregious” example of a nation attempting to control the Internet

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt continues to call out China for its stifling of Internet freedom.

Speaking at a conference in New Delhi Thursday, Schmidt talked about his concern regarding reports that Chinese hackers recently invaded the computers at the New York Times.

“As the Internet has emerged in many of these different countries, there’s quite a few countries that have no laws that pertain to the Internet at all and those Internets tend to be free and open with almost anything goes,” according to The Guardian newspaper.

“There are other governments that try very dramatically to censor or control the Internet, with China being the most egregious example.”

In his Thursday talk — an interview with Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger — Schmidt, who recently visited North Korea and Burma, also denied speculation that he is attempting to position himself for a job in the Obama administration. “No, never. Government people have a very hard job. I much prefer this job, it’s much easier,” he said.

His comments critical of China reflect Schmidt’s upcoming book, “The New Digital Age.” In the book,  to be published in April, Schmidt and co-author Jared Cohen, a former State Department official who now heads the think tank Google Ideas, say China is the “most sophisticated and prolific” cyberthief threatening foreign companies. They also call China the “world’s most active and enthusiastic filterer of information.” And they say cyberattacks by China’s state-associated firms are economically damaging to America.

I recently wrote about Schmidt’s accusations in his upcoming book.

Schmidt was Google’s chief executive in 2010 when the Mountain View Internet giant challenged Communist leaders by halting the practice of self-censoring searches in China. Instead, Google rerouted traffic through its site in Hong Kong, where mainland China’s censorship rules do not apply.

As a result, Google’s share of China’s Internet search market has plunged from about 35.9 percent at its peak at the end of 2009 to 15.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, while local rival Baidu claimed 78.6 percent, according to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International.

Google’s free Gmail service is continuously disrupted and its Web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation and data-storage services have been blocked in China. Likewise, Google’s YouTube video site is blocked. In September, Google shut down its China music download service and three months later its China-based shopping search business.




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