January 04, 2006

Scoble criticizes Microsoft on Chinese blogger takedown

Robert Scoble is the well-known blogger who works for Microsoft and insists he's not afraid to criticize them publicly. He's been doing so for a couple of years now, and has earned the respect of many. He seems like a good guy, but I haven't been as impressed as other have.

But now he's taking a stand that Microsoft's alleged censoring of a Chinese blogger, at the Chinese government's request, is wrong. Good for Scoble.


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.


I have been talking to lots of people today, though, inside and outside of Microsoft. In every instance they asked me to keep those conversations confidential. Why? Cause we’re talking about international relations here and the lives of employees. I wish I could go into it more than that, but I can’t. Not yet. See, it’s real easy as Americans to rattle the door and ask for change, but we don’t live there. Saying “give them the finger” isn’t that easy when there are real human lives at stake. And I don’t need to spell out what I’m talking about here, do I?

One thing I’ve heard is that we spell out our terms of service very explicitly on MSN Spaces. Here in the United States we pull down stuff too at government request, like child pornography or other illegal content.

Being in the content business is not an easy one, that’s for sure.

I’ll pass more along as I can.

Of course, if Scoble got fired, by the time he got from his Boss's office back to his desk, he'd have five job offers on his phone. So he doesn't need to worry. Nevertheless he's using his visibility for good here.

UPDATE: I fixed the spelling in the title of this post.

Posted by jackhodgson at January 4, 2006 08:43 AM