Chinese man sues state telecom firm for blocking Google

Wang Long is demanding China Unicom give him a refund on his Internet fees

A 26-year-old in China is suing one of the country's state telecommunication firms for disrupting access to Google after the government started blocking the company's services in May.

Wang Long, a legal practitioner, filed the lawsuit in a Shenzhen court, which heard his case on Thursday. One Chinese state-run publication said its the first time a local resident has sued a company for failing to provide access to Google.

The legal action came about when Wang found that he could no longer access Google's Hong Kong search engine and Gmail from his Internet and mobile service provider China Unicom. He is now demanding that China Unicom provide an explanation, and refund his Internet broadband and mobile charges from the past five months.

China started completely cutting access to Google services in late May, without stating why. The blocking occurred just as the 25th year anniversary to the Tiananmen Square massacre approached.

The country is notorious for censoring online discussion on anti-government topics, and local authorities have already blocked access to other U.S. websites including Facebook and Twitter.

Many Chinese Internet users have been commenting on the lawsuit, expecting it to be struck down in court, Wang said in an interview on Friday.

"I've already considered this, so why did I still sue?" he said. "I want to show the people, particularly the online masses, that you have to fight for your rights, that they have to be supported."

China Unicom did not immediately respond to a request for comment. So far, the company has not contacted Wang, but he expects a verdict soon.

The Shenzhen court is still processing the case, according to its website.

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Tags governmentregulationinternetlegalChina UnicomCivil lawsuits

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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