MSN spaces takes down Chinese Blogger

By | January 3, 2006

MSN bowed down to the powers that be in China when it took down Zhau Jing (aka Michael Anti) on New Year’s Eve. The increasing pressure of the burgeoning Chinese market and getting access to it have weighed heavily on tech giants like MSN for a year or more. The Chinese government’s want to censor it’s citizens access to the internet and more importantly the information available on the internet makes it a tricky precipice.

There have been several stories of the big three (Microsoft, Google and Yahoo) internet content providers censoring content at the wishes of the Chinese Government in hopes of not being censored themselves. This is yet another of those attempts.

Rebecca MacKinnon makes an important note

Note, his blog was TAKEN DOWN by MSN people. Not blocked by the Chinese government.

She also has a plethora of information on Anti’s escapades with blogging and the MSN censor procedure. She also makes note of how the MSN censor procedure seems to have been scaled up lately.

The story of Anti’s blog being censored has even caught the attention of Microsoft’s own corporate blogger, Robert Scoble. He makes a few very interesting points from the point of view of an “insider”. Although it should be noted that MSN is a division of Microsoft of which Scoble is not a part.
Scoble said:

Why is this so important to me? Well, you ignore the voices of individual people at your peril. And, I’ve been raised by people who taught me the value of standing up for the little guy. My mom grew up in Germany. Her mom stood up to the Nazis (and got a lot of scorn from family and friends for doing so).

I do believe in a slippery slope. If they come after you today, maybe they’ll come after me tomorrow. Gotta stop this kind of stuff while we’re still talking about you.

It would seem that Microsoft has given Scoble almost free-reign over his blog as he has offered Anti a guest blog position on his blog stating:

I won’t censor you and you can write whatever you’d like.

He also has taken the initiative to email his constituents at MSN and get more info. Check back to his post often as I’m sure he will keep us apprised of the updates as he receives them.

I have to agree with Robert and Rebecca on this one. We do not have any control over what China does with the info coming into it’s country. We do however have the right to demand that that censorship not carry over to our United States of America. I’m not entirely sure about the fact that Anti is actually a Chinese citizen and the blog is hosted in the US, but I feel that the censorship must stop. Censoring US hosted sites is the same as telling the New York Times what to write. A country wide uproar would ensue.

Read Rebecca’s post and Scoble’s post.

[tags]Anti, Censor, MSN, China, Scoble, MacKinnon[/tags]