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Response to Business & Human Rights Resource Centre regarding Amnesty International item: “Fighting for Human Rights in Cyberspace”

We agree with Amnesty International that Internet companies have a valuable role to play in the realization of freedom of expression and information. We are deeply concerned about issues of individual security and government control of Internet content, in China and elsewhere... We disagree with Amnesty International, though, that the net result of our providing Internet services in China is to assist in repression, censorship or violation of basic freedoms. On the contrary, the availability of Internet services provided by Microsoft and other U.S. companies has increased the ability of Chinese citizens to engage in free expression... We also want to correct a number of factually misleading and inaccurate statements... Microsoft is not a signatory to the “Public Pledge of Self Regulation” for the Chinese Internet industry... Our MSN search engine in China (currently in beta), does not block searches for particular key words, including “democracy,” “freedom,” “human rights,” and the like... Users of MSN Spaces in China are not prohibited from using the words “democracy,” “freedom,” or “human rights” in blog titles or blog content. Indeed, MSN Spaces does not filter blog content in any way. Pursuant to the direction of the Chinese government, Spaces users may not use certain terms in their account name, space name, or space sub-title – or in photo captions. We employ a “restricted term” list for this purpose and we make every effort to keep the list to a minimum number of terms. The terms “democracy,” “freedom” and “human rights” are not among the terms on the current list.

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