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

New Manjaro Release

What a week we had. With this update we have removed most of our EOL tagged kernels. Please adopt to newer series of each, when still be used. PulseAudio and Gstreamer got renewed. Also most of our kernels got newer point-releases. Series v4.12 is now marked as EOL. Guillaume worked on Pamac to solve reported issues within our v6 series. The user experience should be much better now. Latest NetworkManager, Python and Haskell updates complete this update-pack. Please report back and give us feedback for given changes made to our repositories. Read more

Linux 4.14 Is Up To Around 23.2 Million Lines Of Code

While I usually look at the Linux kernel code size following each merge window, I am a few days late this time around due to busy Xeon/EPYC benchmarking and XDC2017. Anyhow, Linux 4.14 is showing some weight gains but nothing too bad. Linux 4.14 has been another busy cycle with a lot of happenings from finally seeing Heterogeneous Memory Management merged to a lot of other new core functionality plus the always fun and exciting changes and new support happening in driver space. See our Linux 4.14 feature overview for a rundown on the new functionality. Read more

Today in Techrights

10 Best Free Photo Editors For Linux

Linux has come a long way in terms of the applications that are available for the platform. Whatever your specific needs are, you can be sure that there are at least a few applications available for you to use. Today, we'll look at 10 free photo editors for Linux, and I must say, there are a lot of image editing tools available. This post selects just 10 of these awesome tools and talks about them briefly looking at what makes them stand out. In no particular order, let's get started. Read
more