The Great Firewall of China may finally be coming down! As many of you probably already know, China has many firewall blocks in place on its citizens’ access to the Internet. Several search terms are blocked such as “Tianamen Square Massacre” and “Dalai Lama”. According to the article “Breaking China” by Steven Seidenberg published in the most recent issue of the ABA Journal, these firewalls may come down soon. Several groups are organizing to attack the Chinese firewalls at the World Trade Organization (WTO) level. These groups include Microsoft, Google, and various technology companies.
There are 139 countries that are WTO members. The WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) Treaty requires members to treat foreign and domestic service providers the same. China is resting on the argument that everyone is being affected and treated the same by their firewalls.
Ultimately, it is in China’s best economic interest to lift the firewall bans since open Internet logically increases the intellectual property in any country through the free exchange of ideas. That is the whole point of intellectual property rights. It remains to be seen how relaxed China will be with their Internet firewalls, or if this lawsuit will merely result in harsher crack-downs by the Chinese government.