Microsoft Outlines Blog Policy - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Microsoft Outlines Blog Policy

Under the new rules, Microsoft will remove access to blog content only when it receives a government-issued, legally binding notice indicating that the material violates local laws. This framework comes after Microsoft was criticized for removing the blog content of an outspoken Chinese journalist.

Microsoft Corp., stung by criticism for taking down the blog of outspoken Chinese journalist Zhao Jing, unveiled on Tuesday its policy for accessing content on its blogging service MSN Spaces.

In addition, Brad Smith, general counsel and senior vice president for Microsoft, called for a broad international dialogue to establish a set of principles for Internet companies with blogging services in different regions of the world.

Speaking at a Microsoft conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Smith told the gathering of government officials and community leaders that the company was committed to the sharing of information and ideas through blogs and that the new policies were a guide for dealing with government orders.

Under the framework, Microsoft would remove access to blog content only when it received a government-issued, legally binding notice indicating that the material violated local laws.

Under those conditions, the company would remove access to content only in the country issuing the order, leaving it accessible to people in other countries. Microsoft would also notify users prevented from accessing the content that it is unavailable due to government restrictions.

Smith called on industry, governments and advocacy groups to begin a dialogue on a set of principles that could guide the policies and practices of Internet companies providing services internationally. Microsoft says it hosts 35 million blogs on MSN Spaces, which attracts more than 90 million unique users each month.

Offering blogging services, even in restrictive markets, is better than not offering the services at all, Smith said in a statement, "but there remains a need for clear principles to guide new technology and policy decisions."

Microsoft took down Zhao's blog New Years Eve, saying that it was complying with Chinese law. The blog was replaced with the message, "This space is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later."

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

Microsoft is not the first company forced to tailor its products to avoid conflicting with China's harsh rules on distributing information. Google last week launched a special version of its search engine in China, choosing to drop Web mail and blogging services and to block access to some search results.

The Chinese-language version of Google's U.S. search engine was difficult to access in China. Experts believe Chinese censors may have blocked the site at times, while considering whether certain information was acceptable.

Google has also said it would notify people looking for restricted information on its special Chinese site that it's unavailable due to government rules.

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 is not the only U.S. tech company that freedom of speech advocates have accused of helping 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.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
State of the Cloud
State of the Cloud
Cloud has drastically changed how IT organizations consume and deploy services in the digital age. This research report will delve into public, private and hybrid cloud adoption trends, with a special focus on infrastructure as a service and its role in the enterprise. Find out the challenges organizations are experiencing, and the technologies and strategies they are using to manage and mitigate those challenges today.
IT Careers: Top 10 US Cities for Tech Jobs
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  1/14/2020
Predictions for Cloud Computing in 2020
James Kobielus, Research Director, Futurum,  1/9/2020
What's Next: AI and Data Trends for 2020 and Beyond
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  12/30/2019
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Current Issue
The Cloud Gets Ready for the 20's
This IT Trend Report explores how cloud computing is being shaped for the next phase in its maturation. It will help enterprise IT decision makers and business leaders understand some of the key trends reflected emerging cloud concepts and technologies, and in enterprise cloud usage patterns. Get it today!
White Papers
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll