Monday, January 23, 2012

Google, China, India and censorship!

With the topical issue of internet freedom and censorship soaring across the world including India, this paper on internet censorship in China and its consistency with its WTO obligations makes interesting reading. 

Henry S.Gao argues in this paper titled "Google's China problem: A case study on Trade, Technology and Human rights under the GATS"   that in the context of internet censorship of Google in China, the WTO would not be the right forum for the US (representing Google's interests) to address issue of "human rights" in the international trade law forum.Making an extensive, technical analysis of China's obligations under GATS (since internet service would be covered by this Agreement), the paper argues that the results of a WTO dispute will most likely not favour Google in this battle against Chinese internet censorship.

It would be interesting to see the analogy this has to the current debate in India about internet freedom and "objectionable" material on the internet. Are Indian laws consistent with India's specific commitments under GATS? Could a law, regulation or government measure that is constitutionally valid in India still be inconsistent with India's obligations under the WTO? Sometimes it is easier to just pose questions than offer answers!

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