June 24, 2005
Written by C.N.
Wired News reports that Microsoft has been working directly with the Chinese government in censoring material on its Chinese language web portal:
The policy affects blogs created through the MSN Spaces service, said Adam Sohn, a global sales and marketing director at MSN. Microsoft and its government-funded Chinese business partner work with authorities to omit certain forbidden language, Sohn said. . . [B]loggers were not allowed to post terms to MSN Spaces such as “democracy,” “human rights” and “Taiwan independence.” Attempts to enter those words were said to generate a message saying the language was prohibited. . . .
China’s government encourages internet use for business and education but tries to ban access to material deemed subversive. 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.
Sohn said heavy-handed government censorship is accepted as part of the regulatory landscape in China, and the world’s largest software firm believes its services still can foster expression in the country. “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.
I suppose it is inevitable that when you work with the Chinese government, you’ll have to agree to many of their terms, which includes censorship. To be fair, other articles note that many U.S. Internet companies, such as Yahoo and Google, do the same thing. But it is still a little sad to see a company like Microsoft, who supposedly prides itself on providing people the means to maximize communication and creative expression, acede to demands that they censor such communication and expression.
Oh well, anything to promote capitalism I guess . . .
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Microsoft Helping China with Censorship" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2005/06/microsoft-helping-china-with-censorship/> ().
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