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Report by Elizabeth Johnson, CNC News
It wasn't very long ago that the phrase "Google and GoDaddy go to Washington" would have been pure gibberish. Setting that aside, the two internet giants did come to Washington last week to testify on internet freedom and censorship in China, where Google had just made a watershed decision to shut down its government-censored search site.
Rep. David Wu (D-Ore), is a member of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which exists to promote democracy and human rights. He's also big into internet freedom issues.
"Because we believe in innovation, we believe in the innovation society," he said. "And there are inputs to innovation like education and research, there are outputs like jobs and economic growth."
Wu has a bill aimed at fostering new technology to circumvent internet censorship. He says Google helped put a spotlight on a major policy issue that goes beyond China.
"It could have been Iran, it could have been North Korea, it could have been any number of countries ... There are about 40 dictatorships around the world, and many of them censor the internet."
Companies facing Chinese censorship also think Congress can help them.
Christine Jones is a vice president at GoDaddy, the world's largest internet domain registrar. The company is fighting the demand that it collect certain information each time it registers a new domain name.
Congress can't change Chinese law, "but they can use their influence to help the Chinese officials see that maybe that would be a good thing to do if they want to continue to trade with the United States," said Jones.
The head of the organization Human Rights in China, Sharon Hom, hopes Congress can nudge more companies to take a harder look at their own operations. "And that more of them choose to be on the right side of history."
Created by Bureau Chief and Executive Producer Melinda Wittstock, Capitol News Connection from PRI provides insightful, localized coverage of participating stations' congressional delegations.
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