Internet free speech isn't an insular issue

For Silicon Valley’s high-tech companies, finding the Next Big Thing is what matters most. When a Google executive came to London on 12 October, he delivered a speech at an apt venue: Policy Exchange, the favourite think thank of the party tipped to form Britain’s next government.

David Drummond, the 46-year-old American lawyer who serves as Google’s chief legal advisor, spoke about the ways in which Google has tried to ensure unfettered internet access by users worldwide.

But Google has also complied with requests from China and other countries to block websites, a practice seemingly at odds with its corporate motto, “Do no harm.” Drummond argued that criticism of Google’s policy in these areas has overlooked the larger global issue: increasingly repressive internet legislation in many of the 150 countries where the company operates.