Friday, June 17, 2005


FREE SPEECH: Microsoft aides and abets China blogger crackdown


Posted by Andrew Nachison on June 14, 2005 at 11:11 AM | Permalink

The Media Center blog
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Tuesday, June 14, 2005
China's Free Speech Crackdown - WIth A Little Help from Microsoft
To all those holier-than-thou journalists and MSM defenders who dismiss
bloggers as nothing more than amateur rumor-mongers and babblers, please
take note of what's happening in China today - and don't just sit there.
Apply YOUR free speech: report, expose, shine the light of day on
repression. And note not only the policies of control, but the engineers.
In this case, they include Microsoft.

The Chinese government is clearly fearful of the political consequences of
free speech. While the government exerts control over state-owned or
sanctioned media, the Internet poses a clear threat to that control.

China has ordered all bloggers to register with the government by the end
of this month, and now we learn that a new blogging portal launched this
month in partnership with Microsoft automtically blocks posts that contain
"sensitive" words in their titles, such as "democracy" and "demonstration"
and "Taiwan independence." The Washington Post reported today:

The restrictions appear to apply only to the subject line of such entries.
Writing them into the text, with a more innocuous subject heading, seems
to be no problem.

Does Microsoft have anything to say about its collaborator role in
enabling China's repression? Microsoft's uber blogger, John Scoble, wrote
(for himself, NOT an official company postion) in his Scobleizer blog:

When doing business in various countries and, even, various states here in
the US, we must comply with the local laws if we want to do business

And, as a shareholder in Microsoft, I think it would be a bad decision to
decide not to do business in China.

Global Voices founder Rebecca MacKinnon, a longtime resident of China and
former CNN correspondent there, responded today:

I agree with Scoble: no outsiders, including Microsoft, can force China to
change. But nobody's asking Microsoft to force China to do anything. The
issue is whether Microsoft should be collaborating with the Chinese regime
as it builds an increasingly sophisticated system of Internet censorship
and control.

Microsoft is by no means alone in choosing to engage in business that
enables China's repression. A report published in April from the Open
Internet Initiative concluded that "China.s Internet filtering regime is
the most sophisticated effort of its kind in the world. Compared to
similar efforts in other states, China.s filtering regime is pervasive,
sophisticated, and effective."

See also: Marketingvox .

Blogging is the current best expression of the We Media social
transformation that we see extending to every country: the empowerment of
individuals and the consequent challenge to traditional power and
authority - including government, media and corporate power. In China's
attempt to track and suppress bloggers, we see the confluence of all three

Posted by Andrew Nachison on June 14, 2005 at 11:11 AM | Permalink

A friendly pointer.. its not John Scoble.. it's Robert Scoble
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