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Google's Schmidt worried about Russian Internet freedom

Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt says he's wary that Russia is on a path toward Internet filtering like that in China.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt spoke with Swedish journalist Pelle Tornberg at the Paley Center International Council Summit in New York.
Michael Priest Photography/Paley Center

NEW YORK -- Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, is worried that Russia's Internet filtering could turn the country into the next China, though Chinese censorship and rights restrictions can't last forever as the country and technology grow, he said Friday.

Russia last year passed legislation to blacklist Web sites, and the government has been accused of using the law to block information it deems unfit for the population, in addition to illegal content like child pornography.

"We're worried that Russia is on a path" toward the type of active filtering and censorship that China is known for, Schmidt said.

But he predicted technology would assist revolution in China in the next 10 years.

In China, there are 600 million users of the Internet, with microblogging sites like Sina Weibo enormously popular, he said. And 400 million smartphones will be sold there this year. In the next decade, something will make that community move toward a consensus of wanting more rights, and it will move in a way the government can't fix or control, he said.

"There are just too many Chinese people to put in jail," Schmidt said.

Schmidt was speaking at the Paley Center International Council Summit. He spoke with Swedish journalist Pelle Tornberg about subjects in his book, "The New Digital Age."