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Microsoft Censoring Blogs on MSN China 316

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the not-a-surprise-folks dept.
jdfox writes "The BBC is reporting that Microsoft is censoring blogs on MSN China. The words 'freedom', 'democracy' and 'demonstration' are reportedly among the words being blocked. But the article also points out that Microsoft is not the first corporation to censor content when the Chinese government requests it." Slashdot covered this story a few days ago too.
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Microsoft Censoring Blogs on MSN China

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  • Dupe...with a twist. (Score:5, Informative)

    by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @09:39AM (#12812047)


    This story is a dupe....reported previously as "Microsoft Bans 'Democracy' for China's Web Users" [slashdot.org] on Saturday, June 11th.

    Dupes are nothing new here, but the following is what really boggles me...

    From TFS:


    Slashdot covered this story a few days ago [slashdot.org] too.


    Um...OK...if you know it's a dupe, why is it still being re-reported?
    • Well I'm assuming it would be because in the first one they were talking about the MSN site, and this one they're talking about Blogs hosted by MSN.
      • Well I'm assuming it would be because in the first one they were talking about the MSN site, and this one they're talking about Blogs hosted by MSN.

        Well, that might be insightful, except that BOTH STORIES ARE ABOUT BLOGS. Yesterday's FA said "... 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."

        Maybe after it went live they noticed and rather than pull it put the disclaimer. I still fail to underst

    • by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @09:50AM (#12812200) Homepage

      Um...OK...if you know it's a dupe, why is it still being re-reported?

      What on earth makes you believe the Slashdot editors think dupes are a bad thing?

    • Um...OK...if you know it's a dupe, why is it still being re-reported?

      Well, for one thing, some of us have better things to do on Saturday than read /. So it's actually news to some people.

    • if you know it's a dupe, why is it still being re-reported?

      If you know that it's a dupe, and you hate dupes, then why read it?

      I get really tired of people complaining about dupes all the time. Yes, there are occasional dupes. Get over it! The fact is that the editors, like everyone else, are occasionally lazy or miss something. But that doesn't mean that there aren't really good reasons to revisit a story. New information from new sources is a really good reason. The fact that they acknowledge th

  • by AtariAmarok (451306) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @09:41AM (#12812076)
    "The words 'freedom', 'democracy' and 'demonstration' "

    Yes, but what of fr33d0m, d3m0cracy, and dem0nstrat1on?

  • by Viol8 (599362) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @09:41AM (#12812081)
    ..they'd simply pull out of the Chinese market.
    But whats human rights and freedom when theres
    market share and online presence at stake. Right?
    • by space_dude_27 (838047) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @09:53AM (#12812227)
      Well exactly - they have the choice of either compling with the Chinese govt's wishes and censoring content that the regime doesn't like or giving up a potentially very lucrative market to their competitors. Would Microsoft do that? It appears not.

      The thing that really worries me about all this is that if the Chinese govt is in a position to make demands like this on a company as a price for doing businss in China then in the future they may be in a position to make greater demands, ones that affect folks in other countries directly.

    • Get serious. When in Rome. If they want their presence known they will play by the rules. If the Chinese people want to post on censorship free blogs they can tunnel out and use any of the ones located elsewhere.

      Microsoft doesn't need to be involved in politics anywhere.
    • Ok, let us run with tha.

      MS is not a moral being, the laws of the country define acceptable behaviour so :

      If your govt. had any morality then it would cease trading with the Chinese

      but the will of the people isn't in favour of that trade barrier so :

      If you had any morality then you would cease trading with your govt.

      try that one and you'll see how much *your* human rights are respected

    • There's a lot of money to be made from the billions of people in China. That is why companies will be kissing the ass of the Chinese government if need be. Business decisions are mostly a matter of money, and it looks like it makes financial sense to do business in China, even with the laws the way they are.

      Think of it this way: would it be better for Microsoft to simply shut down MSN China, and for other companies to do the same with their Chinese operations, and leave the Chinese people with no voice of
    • Microsoft is a business, it does not decide morality. yeah, China does things differently and we don't like that. But just because you disagree with a country's ideology, you don't pull your business out from there. Unless they are eating babies or something...there is a line for everything. It's not like people over here don't want to censor our video games and what we can see on the web as well.
    • And I suppose you've furthered the fight by not eathing Kung Pao chicken, right?
    • That's where government is supposed to step in with sanctions. That's the idea of regulation - corporations are machines for making money, and they need to be guided away from harming people.
    • Don't you? An 8 billion dollar trade deficit, oil prices skyrocketing with soaring China demand, theirs is the fastest growing economy... All this and yet, NOTHING has changed about the way they govern.

      How long will it be until they start dictating terms to the U.S.? Like the money we give to terrorists who happily sell us more oil, I think we're funding our own doom.


    • Much as I hate Microsoft, I expect IBM will do the same once it gets its foothold in China via the Lenovo deal - assuming the issue ever comes up with IBM at all, since I don't know that they are running general content Web sites there.

      The problem for Microsoft is that MSN is SUPPOSED to be an open information portal. Thus, censoring it - especially such general terms as "freedom" - would seem to be a fundamental contradiction of the MSN "mission" (other than making money for Microsoft - which IIRC it isn
  • What about... (Score:3, Informative)

    by American In Berlin (892009) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @09:43AM (#12812111) Homepage
    The words 'freedom', 'democracy' and 'demonstration' are reportedly among the words being blocked.

    What about 'linux', 'google' and 'apple'?
  • OB Simpsons (Score:5, Funny)

    by PaxTech (103481) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @09:44AM (#12812117) Homepage
    "On this site in 1989, nothing happened." - Tianenmen Square plaque
  • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by failure-man (870605) <failureman AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @09:47AM (#12812162)
    Yeah, that's pretty shitty, but I wouldn't say it's Microsoft's fault. If they want to do business in China they have to comply with Chinese law. Chinese law's kinda oppressive. News at 11.
    • Chinese law forbids these terms? Funny, I recently reviewed their constitution, pity it's illegal now...

      The law doesn't forbid the terms, the Politburo does. A bunch of grey old commies who don't know that China is charging straight for the 21st century, whether they like it or not.

      • by Gulthek (12570)
        "You guys are Commies!? Then why do I see rudimentary free markets?" -- Homer

        The CCP has allowed open capitalists to join. My Chinese teacher (who was a former truck driver in Tibet in the 60s and 70s, cool guy) explained it like this:

        The CCP new guard are in a car leading the old CCP members following in another. Up ahead there is a fork with one side labeled Communism (Maoism actually) and the other labeled Capitalism. After a brief debate the new guard CCP decides to signal a turn to Communism, but tur
    • I see, so your moral argument is "it's ok as long as were making money at it"? That's really nice. Maybe we can make some money selling crack to baby's, I hear there's a market.
    • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thelexx (237096)
      You see, there is this thing called ETHICS:

      In a statement RSF (Reporters Sans Frontiers) said: "The lack of ethics on the part of [Microsoft] 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'?

      "We believe tha
    • They don't have to do business in China.

      Values are only values when you are willing to give something up for them.
  • by theNote (319197) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @09:51AM (#12812206)
    Wow, so Microsoft is responsible for the lack of human rights in China? But China is awesome right? I mean, they use linux, how can they be bad?

    I bet they only use linux for the good stuff, and then they switch over to a MS box when they need to do some oppressing.
    • Wow, so Microsoft is responsible for the lack of human rights in China? But China is awesome right? I mean, they use linux, how can they be bad?

      Are you completely fucking stupid? MS is a player in a system, and their actions are helping to make the perpetuation and expansion of that system possible. Are they the ONLY player? Duh, no. Are they still cozying up to a totalitarian state? Yuppers.

      Any business that actively provides support to that system should be vilified, whether it is Wal-Mart, Nike, or

      • The idealistic side of me agrees with you completely. However, you have to realize that you are judging everything by YOUR societies yardstick. How much of the crude oil (that makes the gasoline and power we all use ) comes from free democratic and human rights respecting countries? The middle east? Russia? Nigeria? etc. etc. should anyone be expected to stop using Oil from such countries since it only helps strengthen the and enrich those already in power? Well thats a tough question..

        Anyway, my point
      • Woah, calm down there guy, its a joke. You too are a player in the system, unless you don't own anything that was made in china.
        The fact is, it wasn't google, nike, or walmart in the headline, it was microsoft, and we all know why MS articles get posted here.

    • Yes, blame Microsoft.

      This is how China gets away with human rights abuses. If the rest of the G7 and all major corporations said that they wouldn't trade or deal with China unless they allowed freedom of speech, China would be a changed place. The problem is that companies like Microsoft don't care about human rights, and are only focused on improving share value. So why make a stand and cost the company money, when they can do whatever they want and continue to blame the Chinese government for human ri

    • they switch over to a MS box when they need to do some oppressing.

      Serves them right.

  • Could someone in the know explain how this happens from a business perspective? What are the benefits to Microsoft and others for complying, or the results of not complying? Is it even an option for them to say 'no thanks, we'd like to leave these words in.'?
    • If they dont comply all MSN sites may get censored by China wholesale. Or if the Chinese are REALLY pissed they can just ignore all of Ms's copyrights in China.
    • Could someone in the know explain how this happens from a business perspective? What are the benefits to Microsoft and others for complying, or the results of not complying?

      This isn't complicated, they do it for money.

      If they comply: They do business there, and make money.
      If they don't: No business, no money from that market.
    • The conversation goes something like this:

      Government: We'd like you to do XYZ
      Microsoft: What if we don't comply?
      Government: You'll be banned from doing business in China (a 1.2bn strong market). We'll also seize all your assets in China and possibly jail your top execs here.
      Microsoft: Would you also like us to censor "liberty"?
  • by rben (542324) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:01AM (#12812335) Homepage

    ... that the dollar is more important than freedom or principles.

    I guess it shouldn't be any surprise the Microsoft and other companies are anxious to help China maintain and strengthen it's totalitarian government, since it's the government that controls the purse strings.

    It should give all of us in this country pause. Microsoft obviously has no issues with a government that has it's army fire upon students demonstrating for democracy. It's a short step from there to helping an American administration (of whichever party) do the same thing in this country. Considering how much money Microsoft was saved by the hand slap it got from Justice after being convicted of monopolistic practices, I would assume Bill Gates feels deeply indebted to the present administration.

    Apparently, even Google, a company that claims it's unofficial motto is "Dont' Be Evil", doesn't feel like it has a responsibility to behave ethically.

    It wasn't defense spending in the U.S. that caused the fall of Communisim in the USSR, it was blue jeans and walkmans -- simple economics. It became glaringly obvious to everyone in communist states that they were being deprived the advances that were cheap to citizens of democratic countries.

    The Chinese have never been stupid or foolish. They learned from the lesson of the USSR and they are modernizing their economy in order to prevent a similar revolution. It is unfortunate that companies like Microsoft, Google, and Walmart are so quick to help them.

    China is still a totalitarian government. China allows the use of slave and prison labor to produce goods which show up on American store shelves. Ever wonder why goods made in China are so inexpensive?

    The American government and businesses are not just hurting the Chinese people by helping such a government; they are hurting American citizens. We are losing jobs. We are becoming a nation that produces nothing but Reality TV shows. Worse the lesson to our children is that freedom only counts until someone offers you more money.

    These companies argue that by doing business with China, they are improving the lives of ordinary Chinese. How can we trust them? There have been numerous stories about the use of prison labor and child labor to produce goods bound for America. Can they really know that they are helping the average Chinese when China does not have a free press that can report how things actually are? I sincerely doubt that the workers in China are getting the same wages and benefits that American workers would get. I wonder if they are even getting enough more to substantially change their lives.

    If you are going to stand for freedom, you have to do it all the time, not just when it's financially attractive.

    • it took this to shed light on that for you? No offense but I see THAT as sad. If you haven't figured it out now, the major corporations in America do everything in their power to limit our rights in our own country. Whatever it takes to make more money, that's always been their motto.
    • [It is sad that American Companies have decided ...]... that the dollar is more important than freedom or principles.

      If you think there's many examples of where American companies have thought freedom or principles were more important than money, you're being naive. Examples [rationalrevolution.net] of what we might consider far worse can easily be found through history.

      As it is, people in China will find ways round the censorship, but the Tiananmen Square protests pointed out to their government that they need to improve t

    • Without sounding like a troll, I have the feeling that many people don't really care about rights here or abroad so long as the dividends are paid. If it comes down to meeting The Street estimates or taking a stand against human rights abuses, most investors will choose the latter -- some because they don't care, some because they don't believe it is their corporation's place to be involved in that.

      I recall asking my father if he would buy $.10 hamburgers from a restaurant that used slave labor. Without
    • ... that the dollar is more important than freedom or principles.

      Of course they have, it wasn't even a choice.

      Corporations are legally obliged to maximize shareholder value, given the choice between money, freedom, and democracy they legally, and one could even argue morally, must choose money. For PR reasons they try to help freedom and priciples if it's convenient and pay as much lip service as they can but that's as far as it goes. The reason the shareholders come together isn't freedom or democracy
      • Corporations are legally obliged to maximize shareholder value...

        Precisely. The only way to relieve a corporation of that obligation is to get Congress to impose sanctions. That such sanctions are not currently in place indicates that the nation believes that engagement improves the lives of ordinary Chinese people. U.S. corporations are just the tools of that policy.

    • ... that the dollar is more important than freedom or principles.

      I bet they'd be eager to know how to run a company and pay employees using freedom.
    • Hm, no.

      The lesson is more like "no use bitching about things YOU can't change."

      You posting that, is it gonna change China? No. Is MS backing out of a deal going to change China? No. They will find someone else to do it instead.

      Might as well get in there, get your piece of the pie, and THEN try to change them once you are well established. MS can't do that shit here, but they COULD do it in China.

      Get it?
    • t wasn't defense spending in the U.S. that caused the fall of Communisim in the USSR, it was blue jeans and walkmans -- simple economics.

      It might be argued that the demise of Communism in the Soviet Union was due to their internal history. All the millions of people sent to slave labor camps and the purposeful dislocation of entire ethnic groups. Plus the deliberate starvation that developed by the conversion of productive farms to collectives according to political theory. And the ruthless supressi
  • If I wrote "Dem0cr@cy" and "Freed0m" instead of "Democracy" and "Freedom", would that fool the system?

    I have a feeling that any success with that would be caught by M$ pretty fast!

    Note: Those letters in "Dem0cr@cy" and "Freed0m" are zeros and not an "o".

  • Seriously, this should be viewed as a really really awful thing on the part of MS. Isolate those effing ChiComs until they're ready to live up to the same standards of freedom as the nations of the civilized world.
  • I know that the advertisements on everyone sees after the main article text are not always the same, but when I first looked at this article, I saw a big Visual Studio .NET advertisement from Microsoft.

    So, is it very enlightened of Microsoft to sponsor an article that implies their own misconduct, or will the ad be pulled when they figure it out?
  • Microsoft is censoring blogs on MSN China. The words 'freedom', 'democracy' and 'demonstration' are reportedly among the words being blocked.

    This is bad news for an oppressive regime. How are finks, spooks, and informers supposed to do their dirty business if they can't:

    A. Praise Democracy, in order to entrap dissidents;

    B. Condemn Democracy, in order to rally more finks, spooks, and informers?

    -kgj
  • by KrisCowboy (776288) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:13AM (#12812472) Journal
    Blocking information in this century is really a grave mistake. We've finally reached a stage where the entire data is at our fingers - if Douglas Adams were alive, he'd say Earth has finally finished calculating the ultimate question. Why is a govt. afraid of it's online content? Sounds like those Nazi days of Germany when it was previleged to have uncensorsed information about the rest of the world. The Chinese need to do something.
  • Didn't they learn there lesson yesterday?

  • Hypocrites (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thelexx (237096) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:23AM (#12812604)
    I'd bet money that half of you people who see nothing wrong with MS capitulating to the totalitarian desires of China bashed the shit out of IBM for it's activities during WWII.
  • by corcoranp (892008) on Tuesday June 14, 2005 @10:40AM (#12812826) Homepage Journal
    We Are Microsoft -- your political, sociological and economical distinctiveness will be added to our own... Resistance is futile...
  • My comment in an earlier and similar thread:
    http://apple.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=152425&c id=12794325 [slashdot.org]
  • China is "Socialist" government... when they the law to censor people, that is good.

    Microsoft is "Capitalist", so when they obey the laws that "Socialists" put in place to censor people, they are bad.

    Of course, if Microsoft refused to obey the Chinese laws, the opinion on Slashdot would be "evil capitalists, threatening the sovernty of 'Socialist' China".

    Basicly, the perfect world according to the Slashdot crowd is a world where a totalitarian one world government controls all economy, media, and everyth
  • This alone is enough to make me seriously consider open source. Any coporate entitiy that is complicit to the supression of human rights and free speach to such a degree is evil. That goes for Google too. I know that sounds extreem, but really. Think about it. We have two notable companies basically turning their attention the other way in the pursuit of profit, one of which has professed publically to be "the good guy company". You can't have it both ways. Either you're the good guys and support free speec
    • "This alone is enough to make me seriously consider open source."

      Why? Is there something in open source licenses that says you can't use the software to suppress human rights or free speech?
  • Do the Chinese use different words for "freedom" and "demonstration" depending on context? "Freedom" and "demonstration" can be used in contexts outside of politics, for example: "This fashion style allows the wearer more freedom of movement." "The experiment was a demonstration of how light refracts."

  • As much as I hate to defend Microsoft, there is a point to be made here. China's government requested the censure. I'm sure if MS dragged their feet on it, they would have been added to "The Great Firewall of China."
  • Of course somehow this thread turned into a "MS is evil because they do business with China in the first place". Besides the fact that the vast majority you do business with China (many computers have parts made in China), I could also contend that allowing the Chinese government to thrive on Linux is immoral. Unless of course the GPL was updated to dissallow any dictatorship from benefiting from the software.
  • What if the Chinese Gov had requested that for every blog posted on MSN Spaces, Bill Gates had to kill a dog?

    He should do it, right? After all, that's respecting the laws of a country you're operating in and that's what Microsoft believes should be done.

    I don't see how it's any different. Both are proactive moves and both stand against most people's moral standards. I think Microsoft's management would see things far differently if the results were right there in front of them. They're actively aidin

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