Microsoft Bows to Chinese Censors
The New York Times reports that China pressured Microsoft to take down a blog that mentioned a journalist strike at a Chinese paper following the firing of a journalist. The blog was hosted on a server in the U.S.
Mr. Zhao said in an interview Thursday that Microsoft chose to delete his blog on Dec. 30 with no warning. "I didn't even say I supported the strike," he said. "This action by Microsoft infringed upon my freedom of speech. They even deleted my blog and gave me no chance to back up my files without any warning."
Tacky, to be sure. But some bloggers speculate this could lead to much worse: Gridskipper claims the Chinese threatened to convert the whole country to Linux and Movable Type, e.g., non-Microsoft. That site won't let me copy and quote, but here's the link.
And I've just spent ten minutes trying unsuccessfully to locate the comment I saw that wondered if MS would be equally cowardly in the face of illegal requests from our own US government--which, considering all the stuff coming out about illegal White House-authorized spying, etc., is not such a big leap.
One of Microsoft's own most public bloggers, Scobleizer, the "Microsoft Geek Blogger", had this to say:
OK, this one is depressing to me. It’s one thing to pull a list of words out of blogs using an algorithm. It’s another thing to become an agent of a government and censor an entire blogger’s work. Yes, I know the consequences. Yes, there are thousands of jobs at stake. Billions of dollars. But, the behavior of my company in this instance is not right.
He goes on to talk about moral courage, his grandmother who stood up to the Nazis in Germany, and his own action contacting higher-ups at Microsoft about this issue. Good for him!
Meanwhile, a message to all bloggers, and all who rely on any outside hosting for your data: Keep backups on your own system!
I maintain this blog on two different servers--but maybe I should keep a file on my hard drive, as well.