Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

M$ compliance with censorship raises alarms

Filed under
Microsoft

Chinese bloggers who use Microsoft's new Web portal to post messages captioned "democracy," "capitalism," "liberty" or "human rights" are greeted with a scolding response.

A bright yellow warning appears: "This message includes forbidden language. Please delete the prohibited expression."

The restrictions were agreed upon by Microsoft and its Chinese partner, the government-linked Shanghai Alliance Investment. But the forbidden words have sparked a debate here and in the online world about how free speech could be threatened when the world's most powerful software company forges an alliance with the largest Communist country.

Multinational companies from cigarette makers to baby formula companies routinely change their advertising and other corporate behavior to adapt to local laws. Experts say that Internet companies such as Microsoft are often flashpoints for controversy because their products are linked to free speech issues and many rules governing blogs and electronic speech are evolving.

"There's a spectrum here," said Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and an author of a recent study on Internet censorship in China. "It's one thing to provide a regime with steel, another to provide bullets, and another to serve as the executioner."

Officials with the Redmond, Wash. company argue that the software giant is only following local laws and that any disadvantage is outweighed by benefits users get from the software giant's services.

"Even with the filters, we're helping millions of people communicate, share stories, share photographs and build relationships," said Adam Sohn, Microsoft's global sales and marketing director. "For us, that is the key point here."

Company product manager Brooke Richardson told the Los Angeles Times that "MSN abides by the laws, regulations and norms of each country in which it operates."

Microsoft points out that filtering objectionable words is nothing new. Even in the United States, the company prevents several words from being used in titles, including "whore" and "pornography."

Yahoo and Google, two other large technology firms, have had to limit their search results in France and Germany, where Nazi propaganda and memorabilia are banned.

In China, computers users often find that filters on Yahoo and other search engines prevent them from accessing pages on topics deemed sensitive by the Communist Party.

Human rights groups, including Reporters Without Borders, say Microsoft is sacrificing free speech principles in its headlong quest for profits and that the company should follow a higher standard.

"No one should break the law, but at the same time we all believe in universal values," said Julien Pain, head of the group's Internet monitoring group. "If China required underage children to work, would you do it? Free speech is not an American value or a French value. It's a human value."

It's natural for companies to adjust their practices in foreign countries to get profits," he said. "As they say in politics, there are no permanent friends, just permanent interests."

Full Story.

More in Tux Machines

Early Ubuntu 14.04 vs. Ubuntu 16.04 Intel Xeon E5 Benchmarks

This morning I posted some Ubuntu 14.04 vs. 16.04 LTS Radeon graphics benchmarks while if open-source AMD graphics driver evolution doesn't get you excited, in this article are results from other non-graphics benchmarks in comparing the Ubuntu 14.04 vs. 16.04 performance for these long-term support releases in their current form. For getting an idea how the overall Ubuntu Linux performance has evolved over the past two years for those solely riding Long-Term Support releases, I compared the performance of Ubuntu 14.04.0 to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS in its current daily ISO form. The tests were done on the same Intel Xeon E5-2687W v3 (Haswell) system with MSI X99S SLI PLUS motherboard, 16GB of RAM, and AMD FirePro V7900 graphics. Read more Also: ‘Android OEMs Will Ship Ubuntu Phones This Year’, Say Canonical

Top Android apps for your Raspberry Pi

Mostly, our tutorials are about completing a specific project and reaching a particular goal. However, this time we’re doing something a bit different. We are showing you some Android apps that you can use along with your Ras Pi. These apps aren’t tied to particular projects – you can use them whenever and as often as you like – but we think they can add something to your whole experience with the Pi. Read more

These 3 things are trying to kill Linux containers

For nearly two years, Linux containers have dominated the world of enterprise IT, and for good reason — among others, they take on issues that virtualization simply cannot within application development and computing at scale and allow for the enterprise world to truly embrace concepts like devops and microservices (the Service Oriented Architecture dream from years gone by). That sound you hear is IT vendors stampeding towards the container bandwagon, but, as with every emerging tech trend, this isn’t always a good thing, as not everyone is walking the walk, regardless of what the business might actually say. Read more

GNOME and KDE

GNOME
  • GNOME Maps Is Looking Better In GNOME 3.20
    While not yet as versatile as say Google Maps, GNOME Maps for GNOME 3.20. is looking to be a nice upgrade. Maps in GNOME 3.20 is making progress with OpenStreetMap editing, expanded place bubbles, adding new places to OSM, support for printing routes, and more.
  • My Updated 3.18 Packages for GNOME Extensions
    I started releasing extension updates in 2014 due to a lot of extensions being unmaintained and seemingly break every time GNOME releases a new version of the Desktop Environment (DE). This is my third batch release post for GNOME extensions and these extension packages are for GNOME 3.18.
KDE