Microsoft Shuts Down a Blog in China

china1a.bmpRecently, I blogged about how companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo have been helping China filter searches for censorship purposes and in some cases track down dissidents who post online. According to a story today in the New York Times:

Microsoft has shut the blog site of a well-known Chinese blogger who uses its MSN online service in China after he discussed a high-profile newspaper strike that broke out here one week ago. . . .

The blog was removed last week from a Microsoft service called MSN Spaces after the blog discussed the firing of the independent-minded editor of The Beijing News, which prompted 100 journalists at the paper to go on strike Dec. 29. It was an unusual show of solidarity for a Chinese news organization in an industry that has complied with tight restrictions on what can be published.

The move by Microsoft comes at a time when the Chinese government is stepping up its own efforts to crack down on press freedom. Several prominent editors and journalists have been jailed in China over the last few years and charged with everything from espionage to revealing state secrets. . . .

Mr. Zhao said in an interview Thursday that Microsoft chose to delete his blog on Dec. 30 with no warning. “I didn’t even say I supported the strike,” he said. “This action by Microsoft infringed upon my freedom of speech. They even deleted my blog and gave me no chance to back up my files without any warning.”

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1 Response

  1. Chris Farris says:

    “This action by Microsoft infringed upon my freedom of speech.”

    So are we talking the freedom of speech as provided by the PRC constitution, or by the Republic of Microsoft. 🙂

    Seriously, digging a bit futher the article states:

    “The MSN Spaces sites are maintained on computer servers in the United States.”

    Well, that is more disturbing. If I as an American citizen say something negative about the PRC, will my blog be taken offline too?

    What the article doesn’t make clear is if the blog was deleted from a global MSN Spaces or a Chinese MSN Spaces. If they deleted the blog from a global service – that is really bad.

    However, if they deleted it from a Chinese service – that just happened to locate the servers physically in the US – while that is bad, it is SOP for doing business in repressive countries. Overall I think the long term connectivity companies like Yahoo, Google and Microsoft provide outweigh the short term harm that comes from assisting a government with censorship.