The Chinese internet that we all
curse and tolerate know and love sure has been grabbing international headlines of late. Of course, there’s that whole Google thing. And before Google was single-handedly wiping out any chance of democracy in China, Microsoft was public enemy No. 1. In the wake of the worldwide public outcry over its shutdown of popular Chinese blogger Michael Anti’s MSN Spaces blog, Microsoft this week announced it has revamped its policies on how it deals with sites that run afoul of local laws:
… Microsoft will only remove blogs when given proper legal notice, and even then, will only block access to that material within the country where it is deemed unlawful. The site will still be viewable from outside the country …
Moreover, Microsoft will notify the owner of the blog that the site was removed as a result of a notice from government. The company also called for stronger measures to deal with the privacy and free expression issues arising from the rapid adoption of communication technologies.
Some are applauding the move, but China internet watcher Rebecca MacKinnon has plenty of questions, perhaps most importantly this one:
I’m also concerned about the implications of this more sophisticated country-specific blocking. Will this make it even easier for companies to justify complying with censorship around the globe because that censorship can be made more fine-grained and sophisticated? We need to think long and hard about this.
Microsoft’s new policy, we gather, would have meant that Michael Anti’s blog was only blocked in China, not entirely shut down, thus it would have been available to anyone in China who knows how to use a proxy server. This is all well and good, but now that Anti is no longer on MSN Spaces, are there any blogs over there worth reading? We ask seriously — we just don’t see many MSN Spaces blogs getting much linkage. (Maybe this one? Or are all the good ones in Chinese?)