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Bing and China’s censorship, going too far?

bingMicrosoft is blaming a technical mishap for its censoring of Chinese language searches. The Guardian reported early this week that Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, was censoring Chinese-language searches in the US as it would for users located in mainland China.

When searching through Bing, author of the censorship blog Greatifire , Charlie Smith, found that searching while in the United States came up with dramatically different sites depending on the language used. He noticed this largely when searching controversial China-related subjects. Searching in English gave the user standard results, but the Chinese searches were heavily censored, excluding pages restricted in China.

As Chinese law does require censorship on activity from IP addresses originating from China, this occurrence would make sense if these searches were made in the country. But as Smith discovered, searching in Chinese from any location still turned up censored results. When Stefan Weitz, a senior director at Bing, was asked about this issue, he told The Verge that the discrepancies in the searches were “due to an error in {Bing’s} system,” and that Bing “does not apply China’s legal requirements to searches conducted outside of China.”

Since this issue has been confronted, Microsoft did issue an official response. In the response, Weitz did clarify the different ways that queries in different languages are processed, accounting for the varying sets of results.

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