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Monday, January 09, 2006

Outsourcing censorship

Microsoft has shut down the website of a well-known Chinese blogger, in order to facilitate that government's censorship policies. The IHT has the original NYT story:
The site pulled down this past week was a popular one created by Zhao Jing, a well-known blogger with an online pen name, An Ti. Zhao, 30, also works as a research assistant in the Beijing bureau of The New York Times.

The blog was removed last week from a Microsoft service called MSN Spaces after the blog discussed the firing of the independent-minded editor of The Beijing News, which prompted about 100 journalists at the paper to go on strike on Dec. 29. It was an unusual show of solidarity for a Chinese news organization in an industry that has long complied with tight restrictions on what can be published.

The move by Microsoft came at a time when the Chinese government is stepping up its own efforts to crack down on press freedom. Several prominent editors and journalists have been jailed in China over the past few years and charged with everything from espionage to revealing state secrets.
The blog's information is maintained on computers in the US, so Microsoft is arguably censoring speech in America, ostensibly to comply with Chinese law. For more on that angel, see Rebecca MacKinnon.

The newspaper story notes that Yahoo revealed information about a personal email account some months ago that led to the imprisonment of a Chinese journalist.

China now leads the world in imprisoning journalists, though Stephen Colbert figured out a way for the US to catch up:
the USA is currently ranked sixth in jailing journalists worldwide. China is far ahead. To make up for lost time, Stephen proposes that we throw the entire New York Times editorial department, the anchors of 60 Minutes, Tim Russert, and anyone else who's been hired since the departures of Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, and Ted Koppel into jail.
The US imprisons a handful of foreign journalists in its jails in Iraq and Gitmo.

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