Sunday, June 12, 2005

NO FREE SPACE AT MSN IN COMMUNIST CHINA

It looks like the dictatorship in communist China is continuing to clamp down on bloggers' freedom of speech. I hope that Microsoft is not assisting the censorship measures by the Shanghai city government. Here is an excerpt from the article, Microsoft bans 'democracy' for China web users. [Via Roger L. Simon.]

Microsoft's new Chinese internet portal has banned the words "democracy" and "freedom" from parts of its website in an apparent effort to avoid offending Beijing's political censors.

Users of the joint-venture portal, formally launched last month, have been blocked from using a range of potentially sensitive words to label personal websites they create using its free online blog service, MSN Spaces. (News.Moneycentral.MSN.com / Financial Times, 06/10/05.)


Maybe someone could try to register an account on MSN Spaces and search for different words. Here are some links:

MSN Spaces. Translate the site with AltaVista's Babelfish.

" 用您自己的共享空间,可以共享您的想法、照片和音乐列表。立即注册吧。= With you sharing space, may share your idea, the picture and the music tabulates. Registers immediately."


You could write search words in the box in the upper right corner of the site.

"网页搜索:= Homepage search:"


When you do the search you will be directed to this site: Beijing 3721 Technology Co. Ltd.

UPDATE 06/14/05:

[Editor's note: Thanks to Mr. Schee in Taiwan for linking to my post.]

What do you think about William Makower's approach? From the article, Microsoft censors Chinese blogs.

"It is all very well to have high-minded ideals about how you want the Chinese to behave, but opposing China is going to be counter-productive."

"Microsoft is being pragmatic in its approach," said Mr Makower. "It is not up to it to make political statements." (News.BBC.co.uk, 06/14/05.)


Here is an excerpt from the article (Microsoft censors its blog tool) by Reporters Without Borders.

Reporters Without Borders said it was disgusted to find that Microsoft was censoring the Chinese version of its blog tool, MSN spaces, the system automatically rejecting words including "democracy" and "Dalai Lama".

"Following Yahoo !, here is a second American Internet giant giving way to the Chinese authorities and agreeing to self-censorship", the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

"The lack of ethics on the part of these companies is extremely worrying. Their management frequently justifies collaboration with Chinese censorship by saying that all they are doing is obeying local legislation.

"Does that mean that if the authorities asked Microsoft to provide information about Chinese cyberdissidents using its services that it would agree to do so, on the basis that it is "legal" ? Reporters Without Borders wondered.

"We believe that this argument does not hold water and that these multinationals must respect certain basic ethical principles, in whatever country they are operating." (RSF.org, 06/14/05.)



Rebecca MacKinnon has started a conversation with Robert Scoble. [Via InstaPundit.]

Scoble says it's better to be doing business in China than not, implying that this engagement is better for China and its freedoms in the long run. Don't get me wrong, I believe strongly in economic engagement with China. But nobody said Microsoft shouldn't be doing business there. It's a question of how you do business and in what manner. (RConversation.blogs.com, 06/14/05.)


Check out Comic Strip 72: China orders bloggers to register with government or else by Comic Strip Blog.

UPDATE 06/17/05:

Go to Global Voices Online and read the post, Screenshots of Censorship, if you want to set up a MSN Spaces blog in Chinese and be able to use "forbidden" words like "freedom" and "independence for Taiwan"... [Via Gus Van Horn's post, Linux, Anyone?] If you want to get a view from another perspective, read Dare Obasanjo's post, MSN Spaces and China.

Technorati tag: . [Editor's note: For an explanation, read Rebecca MacKinnon's post, Chinese Bloggers on Censorship, MSN, Etc.]