By Don Southerton, Korea Legal.org Editor
For some time Korea Legal has been following the long-pending KORUS FTA ( Korea- US Free Trade Agreement). We predict it will be enacted in 2011. One outcome will be expanded trade between the US and Korea. As we have noted in Korea Legal.org other barriers will be removed including some limiting legal services. One area often overlooked is Internet-related as shared in this WSJ Digital Network article.
Google Exec Calls Internet Censorship A Trade Barrier
SAN FRANCISCO (Dow Jones)–Google Inc. (GOOG) Chief Legal Officer David Drummond urged the U.S. government to treat Internet censorship as a “trade barrier” because it prevents the search giant and other Web companies from accessing foreign markets.
Drummond said Google is seeing an “alarming increase” in governments around the world censoring the Web, and he called on the U.S. government to treat the issue much as it would if a foreign nation was blocking the trade of physical goods.
“If this was happening with physical trade, we’d all be saying this violates trade agreements,” he said. “If you want to be part of the community of free trade, you have to let the Internet be open.”
Drummond said barriers take several forms, such as blocking access to Google’s YouTube video service or by imposing licensing requirements that stipulate the company must install servers within a country in order to create a “local presence”–a definition that subjects content on those servers to local laws.
The majority of Google’s Web searches, as well as just over half its revenue, come from markets outside the U.S.
Drummond made his comments during a panel about trade and jobs in the technology sector. The panel, which was held at Google’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, also included U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.
Kirk, who was in Silicon Valley to solicit input from technology companies, said trade has to be a “critical pillar” of President Barack Obama’s economic policy because companies can put Americans back to work by accessing foreign markets.
He also said the U.S. has “gotta move” on pending free-trade agreements with countries including South Korea, Panama and Colombia.
Other panelists, such as Gregg Alton, executive vice president of biotech group Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD), pointed to the protection of intellectual property as a key trade concern.
Facebook Inc. global communications vice president Elliot Schrage largely echoed Drummond’s comments, noting the European community, Turkey, Australia and Vietnam are among those that block or filter content, or otherwise prevent Web companies from delivering their services to consumers.
“It would be a mistake to think the Internet faces its only challenge in China,” said Schrage.
Schrage added that the mission of companies like Google and Facebook, which is to democratize the access to information, advances a key foreign-policy goal of the U.S. government.
Source: Scott Morrison, Dow Jones Newswires; 415-765-6118; firstname.lastname@example.org