REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 31, 2006 — Microsoft today outlined a new policy framework for content access to its popular Blogging and personal publishing service, MSN Spaces. It also called for broad dialogue to produce a set of principles to guide practices in this area.
Speaking before a conference of government officials and community leaders in Lisbon, Portugal, Microsoft Senior Vice President and General Counsel Brad Smith reaffirmed the company’s commitment to blogging as an important vehicle for sharing of information and ideas, and outlined the policy framework that would guide Microsoft in dealing with government orders related to blog content:
Maintaining global access: Microsoft will remove access to content only in the country issuing the order. When blog content is blocked due to restrictions based on local laws, the rest of the world will continue to have access. This is a new capability Microsoft is implementing in the MSN Spaces infrastructure.
Transparent user notification: When local laws require the company to block access to certain content, Microsoft will ensure that users know why that content was blocked, by notifying them that access has been limited due to a government restriction.
Smith spoke about the challenges that global companies face in doing business in different markets, with different local laws around the world. He called for a dialogue involving industry, governments and other stakeholders and advocacy groups to produce a set of principles that should guide policies and practices of global internet companies providing services around the world.
Microsoft runs one of the largest blogging and personal expression tools on the Internet, with more than 35 million MSN Spaces and over 90 million unique users every month. Blogging and personal publishing have become a worldwide phenomenon.
Smith noted that Microsoft believes that innovative online communication services help people to communicate and express themselves, and are valuable tools in enhancing relationships and commerce. Smith said that Microsoft believes that is better for customers if Microsoft is present in global markets with these tools and services, even in restrictive markets, than not offering the services at all, but there remains a need for clear principles to guide new technology and policy decisions.
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