Microsoft Defends Blocking Zhao Jing's Blog

Posted on January 8, 2006

Zhao JingMicrosoft has blocked the blog of Zhao Jing (also known as Michael Anti), a Chinese journalist and blogger who has spoken out against censorship in China. Microsoft has blocked the journalist's blog and also defended the practice. There is lots of outrage in the blogosphere about Microsoft's decision. Computerweekly has an article about Microsoft's defense. The article also notes that Yahoo has also complied with requests from the Chinese government.
Although MSN Spaces is not controlled by Microsoft's Chinese operation, Microsoft has said the blocking of the blog is in line with its policy of complying with "global and local laws, norms and industry practices".

China is the second-largest internet market after the US and Microsoft is one of the leading western IT companies operating in China.

Last autumn Yahoo gave information about journalist Shi Tao's personal e-mail account to Beijing. The regime later jailed him for 10 years on charges of divulging state secrets.

Robert Scoble, the well-known Microsoft geek blogger who is so popular in parts of the blogosphere that some bloggers dream about him, initially disagreed with Microsoft's decision: "Guys over at MSN: sorry, I don't agree with your being used as a state-run thug." However, he has since backtracked from his original post and appears more understanding of Microsoft's behavior. Corante's Get Real has a good post summarizing Scoble's change in view. A ZDNet article describes some other Microsoft employee blogs discussing the issue.

Microsoft is playing defense and hoping the issue will go away. Zhao Jing was a well-known blogger -- he was recently listed on the jury of the 2005 BOBs. This will be an issue that bloggers will continue to raise against Microsoft and other companies that censor blogs for Beijing or the governments of other countries. Gridskipper says you can still see some of Zhao Jing's blog at Google's cache. It looks like you can also see the blog on MSN's cached copy as well -- at least temporarily. RConversation, written by Rebecca MacKinnon, had one of the earliest posts on this topic. RConversation's post also describes ways Microsoft censors blog posts that contain words like "Tibet Independence" or "Falun Gong." News stories from July of last year said even words like "democracy" are censored.

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