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Network Solutions, GoDaddy cease registering Web sites in China

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to a request for comment.

Network Solutions said it stopped taking new accounts in China last December, according to spokeswoman Susan Wade.

"Of course the decision affects our businesses, but it also didn't make business sense to operate under their change of procedures," she said.

Arvind Ganesan, business and human rights director at Human Rights Watch, said China's new rules are yet another example of the country tightening its censorship policies and undermining the ability of U.S. companies to operate freely.

"The underlying intent is if you're engaging in political speech, we want to know who's engaging in it and what Web site is behind it," Ganesan said. "This is a way the Chinese government can send a chilling message to people that they shouldn't speak freely online. It's forcing us companies to be both the censor and the spy on behalf of the Chinese government."

Jones said Go Daddy's decision to stop registering new domains was unrelated to Google's recent decision.

"With all due respect, this has nothing to do with Google," she said. She added that the company had been deliberating what it would do about its business in China before Google's announcement.

"We decided we didn't want to be agents of China," she said.

At Wednesday's hearing, Alan Davidson, Google's director of public policy, said governments worldwide should develop new rules to combat unfair trade barriers online and should make Internet freedom part of the criteria for receiving development aid. He noted that the number of governments that routinely censor the Internet has grown from a handful in 2002 to more than 40 today.

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