Microsoft founder's comments follow Google/China row

Bill Gates: Businesses should obey local laws

Companies operating in countries such as China, which have restrictions on free speech, should respect the local laws if they are to keep operating there, Bill Gates has suggested.

In an interview on the US programme Good Morning America, the Microsoft founder was asked to comment on Google’s recent spat with the Chinese authorities over censorship.

While not referring directly to the search giant, Gates said: “Different countries have different rules about censorship, pornography. In Germany if you make certain statements about being in the Nazi party that’s censored – in this country that would be subject to free speech. So you’ve got to decide: do you want to obey the laws of the countries you’re in, or not? If not, you may not end up doing business there.”

He added that the internet had had a positive effect everywhere, including in China. “Fortunately the Chinese efforts to censor the internet have been very limited. It’s easy to go around it, and so I think keeping the internet thriving there is very important,” he said.

Gates also told the programme that he had recently joined Twitter in order to keep up with feedback on the work of his charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“It’s a new experience for me but I’m glad to be using the latest tools and it’s been fun so far,” he said.

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