Microsoft to team up with both Baidu and the Chinese government’s censorship policies

Molly Wood Jul 6, 2011
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Microsoft to team up with both Baidu and the Chinese government’s censorship policies

Molly Wood Jul 6, 2011
HTML EMBED:
COPY

You don’t hear the name Google much around China. The search giant, which dominates the market in nearly every country on the planet, isn’t really a player in China. Google operated a Chinese version of its engine, based in China, and went along with the government’s censorship of results. But that approach never really sat well with a company dedicated to the idea of finding information and bringing it to web users. Google eventually moved its Chinese search engine to Hong Kong, where the laws aren’t as restrictive.

Google’s absence has allowed Baidu to thrive — to dominate, in fact. The one area where Baidu has had difficulty, however, is in English language results. To that end, Baidu has formed a new partnership with Microsoft wherein Microsoft’s Bing search engine will return those results.

Bing has been in China for a while already and complying with Chinese policies. But this arrangement with the biggest player in search in China will give it a lot more visibility. For its part, Microsoft says that it respects the laws of the countries where it does business and complies with them accordingly.

We talk to Rebecca MacKinnon from the New America Foundation about how Chinese censorship works. “The Chinese government expects Internet companies to censor and police user content,” she says. “So, with all of these companies, including Baidu, they’re expected to exercise what the Chinese government calls ‘self discipline’ and they actually give out an award for this.” That’s an award that Baidu’s CEO has won in the past.

We also talk to Chris MacDonald of the Clarkson Centre for Business Ethics & Board Effectiveness at the University of Toronto. He’s the author of a blog on business ethics. MacDonald thinks that this Baidu deal might raise questions among Microsoft stakeholders: “They’re going to want to know the extent to which Microsoft will cooperate with the censorship program that the Chinese government has in place and insists that companies comply with, and whether Microsoft thinks there’s some way of justifying being complicit in those kinds of rights violations.”

Also in this program, a Belgian DJ duo (there’s a phrase you don’t often hear on a technology show) has put out their latest release as a free app. This while the singer Bjork prepares to release 10 new apps, each tied to a song.

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