×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

China Reasserts Cyber Sovereignty Policy as Google Pleads for Better Access

Apple’s Tim Cook and Google’s Sundar Pichai were in attendance this weekend at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China. There, they would have heard Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a letter read to delegates, again reassert the doctrine of cyber sovereignty, the idea that each country has the right to govern the Internet how it likes within its own borders.

Xi said the world should respect that sovereignty, foster a spirit of partnership, advance development, safeguard security, participate in governance, and share the benefits. “Building a community of common future in cyberspace has increasingly become the widespread common understanding of international society,” he said. “China’s door to the world will never close, but will only open wider.”

China this year codified the concept of cyber sovereignty into law. These and earlier rules have kept many prominent Western tech companies from operating in China, or severely crimped their operations in the Middle Kingdom. Facebook, Twitter and Netflix are all banished. Google pulled its search operations out of China in 2010, and its YouTube and Gmail programs are no longer accessible from within China. Crypto-currency Bitcoin is also banned.

Pichai is understood to have made a pitch for Google to be allowed to return to China. “A lot of work Google does is to help Chinese companies,” he said, according to reports from the conference. “Many small and medium-sized businesses in China take advantage of Google to get their products to many other countries outside of China.”

Pihai’s plea, plus similar lobbying by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, come as China’s homegrown tech giants are increasingly becoming forces overseas and as the tech sector pursues machine learning, 5G communications and the Internet of Things.

China’s Alibaba is increasingly a competitor with U.S.-based Amazon on fronts that range from home shopping to cloud computing. Driven by an ecosystem that spans games, music and messaging, China’s Tencent now approaches Facebook in terms of market capitalization. And Baidu positions itself as a global market leader in artificial intelligence and driver-less cars, rivaling Google, among others.

Western companies have complained that they are not allowed access to Chinese markets and customers while Chinese companies can operate freely overseas. That potentially puts China in breach of its obligations to the World Trade Organization. But China suggests that cyber sovereignty is a matter of national security, protecting the country from crime and terrorism.

China has been rated as the world’s least free country for the past three years in terms of Internet freedom, according to U.S.-based non-governmental organization Freedom House. Google is a sponsor of Freedom House.

The Chinese tech companies largely comply with national rules that permit Chinese government access to their servers, require data to be stored in China, and to conduct censorship on behalf of the state.

Governments in other countries, including Pakistan and Turkey, have recently used similar arguments as they shut down services, social media apps, and web pages they are uncomfortable with. Russia recently temporarily blocked Tencent’s WeChat messaging app.

China’s regulation of the Internet has escalated in recent weeks. It has ordered Apple and others to remove downloads for virtual private network downloads from their app stores, outlawed Microsoft’s Skype voice and video messaging service, and effectively disabled Facebook’s encrypted messaging service WhatsApp within China.

More Digital

  • Magic leap Is Hiring to Build

    Magic Leap Plans to Expand to Mobile AR

    Magic Leap is getting ready to embrace augmented reality (AR) on mobile devices. The company is currently looking to hire a senior software engineer for mobile AR, who will be tasked with “expanding Magic Leap’s platform to mobile devices,” according to a new job listing. A Magic Leap spokesperson declined to comment. Magic Leap released [...]

  • Microsoft

    Microsoft Hints at Mixed Reality Update for Mobile World Congress

    Microsoft may give us an update on its Mixed Reality ambitions at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month: The company sent out invites for a press conference Wednesday that list Alex Kipman, who leads its augmented and virtual reality efforts, among the speakers. Kipman will speak together with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and corporate vice [...]

  • Sinclair Enters Streaming Arena With Local

    Sinclair Enters Streaming Arena With Entertainment Bundle and Local Channels

    Sinclair Broadcast Group is diving into the increasingly crowded streaming platform arena with the launch today of Stirr, a free OTT entertainment bundle offering local news and general entertainment, sports and lifestyle channels. Sinclair aims to leverage the near-national reach of its sprawling station group with its strong local presence in markets across the country [...]

  • variety digital innovators

    Variety's Digital Innovators 2019: The Trailblazers Pushing Media Boundaries

    A decade ago, when the streaming-video revolution was in its infancy, the internet was more complementary than disruptive to Hollywood. Those days are gone. New platforms have risen up as Silicon Valley players have bulldozed onto the scene, and the media biz is rebuilding the ways it reaches audiences. With the inaugural Variety Digital Innovators [...]

  • MODEL RELEASED Hand holding iPhone with

    Netflix Q4 Preview: Price Hike Signals Strong Year-End Quarter

    Netflix is feeling its oats with a price hike across all streaming plans in the U.S.: Coming just two days before it reports fourth-quarter 2018 results, the timing of the fee increases may indicate the company will report a big beat on Q4 expectations. The streamer is scheduled to report earnings on Thursday, Jan. 17, after [...]

  • IMDb UnMade - Rainn Wilson, Nick

    Amazon's IMDb Launches Original Series 'UnMade' About Comedians' Rejected Hollywood Pitches

    IMDb, the Amazon-owned entertainment database, has premiered its latest original show: “UnMade,” featuring Rainn Wilson, Nick Cannon, Kristen Schaal, Reggie Watts and other comedians discussing early pet projects that were never produced, until now — sort of. In each episode, one of the guest comedians recounts a project they created and pitched back when they were [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content