by CIO Staff

MS Unveils New Blog Rules

Feb 01, 20062 mins

On Tuesday, Microsoft unveiled company guidelines that explain how it plans to deal with government censorship demands in the U.S. and anywhere else it does business, The New York Times reports.

The company’s announcement comes five weeks after it decided to shut down the blog site of well-known Chinese blogger Zhao Jing, a.k.a. An Ti, after he discussed a highly publicized newspaper strike in Beijing.

For more, read Microsoft Shuts Down Chinese Blogger.

Among the changes in Microsoft’s policy is a commitment to block content on its MSN Spaces service only when served with “legally binding notice from the government indicating that the material violates local laws, or if the content violates MSN’s terms of use.”

Microsoft is working on a technology that would allow content to be blocked by the country that made the request, while keeping it available to the rest of the world.  The company also said it would create a system of “transparent user notification,” so that users whose blogs have been closed down will be notified when they try to access their sites.

Mary Robinson, former high commissioner of human rights with the United Nations, praised the guidelines calling them “deeply significant.”

Not everyone is so sure. 

Julien Pain, head of the Internet desk at Reporters Without Borders’, a press freedom group based in Paris, called Microsoft’s move a “illusory victory.”

Pain noted that there’s a positive and negative side to the issue. “It’s clear that they’ve begun thinking about their ethical responsibility,” Pain said. “But is also shows that they accept censorship, and that they believe in this new form of Internet, in which the rights of users will vary according to their geographical origin.”

Microsoft’s announcement comes less than a week after Google’s highly-publicized decision to censor its Chinese-language search engine,  For more, read Google Will Censor Chinese Web Searches and U.S. Lawmaker Battles Chinese Internet Censorship.

-Al Sacco