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1/4/2006
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Microsoft Confirms Dropping Chinese Journalist's Blog

Microsoft said it was complying with local law when it took down the blog of outspoken Chinese journalist Zhao Jing.

Microsoft Corp. on Wednesday confirmed that it took down the blog of outspoken Chinese journalist Zhao Jing, saying that it was complying with China's laws.

Blogger Rebecca MacKinnon, a former CNN Beijing bureau chief now a research fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, first reported that Jing's blog was taken down New Years Eve by Microsoft's blog-hosting service MSN Spaces. The blog has been replaced with the message, "This space is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later."

Zhao, aka Michael Anti, is among a number of Chinese bloggers that have grown in popularity in the Communist nation where the general media is government controlled.

China last year started tightening its control over Internet services, but has yet to launch a major crackdown on bloggers. Experts believe the government is still struggling with media control without stymieing the country's emerging Internet businesses. China is the second largest Internet market, and is growing quickly.

Microsoft said in a statement that the decision to unplug Zhao was inline with its practice of "ensuring that products and services comply with global and local laws, norms, and industry practices."

"Most countries have laws and practices that require companies providing online services to make the Internet safe for local users," the company said. "Occasionally, as in China, local laws and practices require consideration of unique elements.”

Microsoft is not the first U.S. tech company to help the Chinese government in controlling the media. Yahoo in September gave information about journalist Shi Tao's personal email account to Beijing, which later jailed him for 10 years on charges of divulging state secrets.

It's also not unusual for U.S. search engines, such as Google, Microsoft MSN, and Yahoo, to censor their Chinese-language search results at the request of the government.

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