Microsoft capitulates to Chinese censors

Microsoft is cooperating with China's government to censor the company's newly launched Chinese-language web portal.
Written by ZDNet UK, Contributor

Free-speech activists are up in arms after hearing the news that Microsoft, capitulating to Chinese officials, shut down the blog of a Chinese citizen critical of government policies. Microsoft runs a web portal with almost 5 million boggers tapping away. The site applies advanced filtration technology to censor certain words; offensive bloggers are fined.

Bad words include those of the usual Seven Dirty Words variety, as well as some whose dirtiness is unique to China: "Democracy," "human rights" and "Taiwan independence." Website owners are being required to register with the government.

"Chinese censors scour internet bulletin boards and blogs for sensitive material, and block access to violators. Sites that let the public post comments are told to censor themselves or face penalties," reports Wired News.

According to Adam Sohn, a global sales and marketing director at MSN, there is an upside to filtering blogs:

"Even with the filters, we're helping millions of people communicate, share stories, share photographs and build relationships. For us, that is the key point here," he said.

China has a burgeoning online population at 87 million users, a number that will skyrocket to a billion before long. Microsoft isn't going to impose Western standards of freedom of speech on a government that can provide access to that market.


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