TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Google Denies Acting Unlawfully

Google Denies Acting Unlawfully

Reuters News Wire (
Tue, 21 Feb 2006 13:18:50 -0600

Internet giant Google, which has agreed to block politically sensitive
items on its new China site, rejected Chinese newspaper reports on
Tuesday that the new platform does not have the correct license.

The Beijing News reported on Tuesday that, the recently
launched service that accommodates China's censorship demands, has not
obtained the Internet content provider (ICP) license needed to operate
Internet content services in China.

The Ministry of Information Industry, which regulates China's
Internet, was "concerned" and investigating the problem, the paper

"Under China's policy framework for the Internet, is clearly
unlawful," said the China Business Times.

A Google spokeswoman said the newspaper reports were groundless.
"Google has the required license to operate the service in
China," she said in an emailed statement.

Google used the ICP license of another, local company,,
under a business partnership -- a practice followed by many
international Internet companies in China. The license number is
displayed at the bottom of the screen.

Yahoo Inc. and EBay Inc. have similar license arrangements.

The official spokesman for the ministry was not available for
comment. But another official in his office, surnamed Wang, said,
"We're aware of the problem. It was raised long ago."

He said the ministry would offer a statement on the issue some time
later, possibly on Wednesday, and refused to say anything more about
the matter or whether officials had raised it with Google.

The Chinese government blocks foreign investors from directly
operating Internet services in China.

Foreign investors have usually become minority shareholders in joint
ventures with local Internet companies, or signed deals so the foreign
investor receives payment for technical support to a Chinese client.

Google has weathered recent criticism from United States lawmakers and
Chinese dissidents for accepting Chinese censors' demands that its new
Chinese service block links about sensitive topics, such as the 1989
anti-government protests in Tiananmen Square.

But the China Business Times, a business paper with a sometimes
nationalist slant, blasted Google for even telling users that links
are censored.

"Does a business operating in China need to constantly tell customers
that it's abiding by the laws of the land?" it said, adding that
Google had "incited" a debate about censorship.

The paper likened Google to "an uninvited guest" telling a dinner host
"the dishes don't suit his taste, but he's willing to eat them as a
show of respect to the host."

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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