Thursday, January 05, 2006

MULTI NATIONAL This Forbes article quotes a Microsoft statement as saying:
As a multi-national business, Microsoft operates in countries around the world. In line with Microsoft practices in global markets, MSN is committed to 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. Occasionally, as in China, local laws and practices require consideration of unique elements.
Global laws? Making the internet "safe for local users"? Unique elements?

Has the entire Microsoft PR staff been sacked and replaced with typing chimpanzees?

Just to be clear: The allegation isn't that Microsoft is taking blogs down at the request of the Chinese government. Or even that the company is restricting access in China to controversial blog posts.

Mackinnon's charge, instead, is that any Chinese language blog post on MSN Spaces--posted in the US or elsewhere--is at risk of being pulled worldwide without explanation if it refers to "falun gong" or "Tibet independence."

Microsoft is accused, in other words, of embarking on a semi-secret global censorship program.

The company's answer? It's making the internet "safe for local users."

If that isn't enough to give you the willies, you haven't been reading your Orwell.

UPDATE: Another Microsoft employee comes to the company's defense here. Below his post, in the comments, he and I exchange words.

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.