Cybersecurity Report Finds Microsoft Censoring Politically Sensitive Chinese Names In US Searches

  • A Microsoft Corp MSFT search engine has made it more challenging in North America to look up politically sensitive people for China, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • Citizen Lab consistently found that Bing censored politically sensitive Chinese names.
  • Bing’s autofill system, which guesses based on searching after a few keystrokes, often fell silent in connection to names the Chinese government deems sensitive, like Chinese President Xi Jinping and the deceased human-rights activist Liu Xiaobo, Citizen Lab said.
  • Citizen Lab’s findings resulted from 100,000 names using English and thousands of names using Chinese characters in December to see if politically sensitive names fetched the same results as other names.
  • A Citizen Lab expert said, “If Microsoft had never engaged in Chinese censorship operations in the first place, there would be no way for them to spill into other regions.”
  • In 2021, Microsoft suspended the autofill feature in China to comply with Chinese laws. 
  • Citizen Lab found that in tests late last year, Bing did not offer autofill suggestions for search terms of the names of Chinese political dissidents and party leaders. 
  • Microsoft’s LinkedIn has blocked some China-focused human-rights activists, academics, and journalists in the China version. 
  • LinkedIn also decided to shut down its social-media service in China amid the tech crackdown.
  • Price Action: MSFT shares traded higher by 0.88% at $255.07 on the last check Friday.

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