Microsoft must allow online freedom in China



Microsoft is aiding the repression of freedom of expression and information in China through complying with requests by the Chinese government that has resulted in censorship of the internet.

Microsoft’s action have included filtering the results of searches for politically sensitive terms and displaying the message “Certain content was removed from the results of this search”. Microsoft have also restricted users of MSN Spaces from including particular terms in their account names and titles. As the list of restricted terms have not been released, the extent of censorship is unkown and may result in excessive self-censorship by its Chinese users.

Microsoft have also removed blogs that are critical of the Chinese administration, such as the blog by Zhao Jing which criticised the authorities crackdown on a Beijing tabloid which exposed official corruption.

In addition, Microsoft have voluntarily signed the ‘Public Pledge of Self-discipline for the Chinese Internet Industry’ which requires Microsoft to 'refrain from producing, posting or disseminating harmful information that may jeopardize state security and disrupt social stability'.

This censorship contradicts the very principles and values that Microsoft was founded upon. It also contravenes the rights enshrined in constitution of the People's Republic of China to freedom of expression and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which China has signed.

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