Microsoft's Bing search engine blocks out "sexually explicit" results and gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender queries in Arab countries, claimed the Open Net Initiative late last week. The group carried out a test in January of Bing as intended for Middle Eastern sensibilities and found that it filtered Arabic and English …
....maybe they should voulenteer to stand in the middle of Yemen handing out copies of Playboy....
Or maybe they don't mind other people getting thrown in prision, so long it isn't them.
Oh BTW. For all those in the UK about to lambast MS.
Try searching for "Best Child Porn Sites" and see how that goes down....
But why do we suck up to the stoneage twats?
If showing valid search results is not allowed in a country, why is it necessary to take your business to that country? In the same way that Google should be going ahead and pulling out of China MS should just tell the Arab states to fuck off.
The comparison with child porn is a little silly: The basic premise for barring child porn _was_ that children had to be hurt to produce it and preventing it being visible meant there was no reason for people to produce it. OK, it's not the best way of stopping people exploiting kids, but it's based on (the children's) freedom and not a book written by some muppet a few hundred years ago.
Personally, I think the UK's web is probably being filtered too much and our definition of child porn is too strict and I'd be happy if other countries would turn their nose up at out laws -- Australia could do with a kick up the arse too. It doesn't help though when companies such as MS legitimise a govenrments efforts to remove human rights from its people.
Maybe you should "voulenteer" to sit at your computer handing out crappy analogies.
While totally agreeing with Cameron Colley's sentiment, it's not good business to deny yourself access to quite a large and lucrative market as the Middle East just because the customers are "stoneage twats". However backward or non-open or traditionalist they (or the Chinese as you also mentioned) may be, their money is as valid as anyone else's.
A business simply can't afford to concern itself with moral issues to the detriment of maximising profit.
So they've banned arab women from finding information on breast cancer.
But what about arab ornithologists checking on blue tits?
Or anyone who passed their exams summa cum laude?
Where do you stop?
Have they banned searching for Microsoft? I hear that company is full of dicks, led by the biggest sweatiest dick of them all.
Welcome to the real world.
So MS have censored some search results in Arab countries? If companies want to do business in certain parts of the globe they have to play by the rules of the land. This can mean not putting growth hormeones in milk, it can mean not selling tobacco to 16 year olds, and yes it can also mean not allowing certain search terms to pass. Are MS tracking Ip addresses and passing this over the the authorities? are they pushing anti-gay lesbian agendas for the government? no, they are simply removing a handful of pages from the search results page of a search engines.
Put it in perspective, all they are doing is acting in a responsable manner for the market they are selling to. Its why I can't access Russian sites that show images of 12 year olds girls, and its why I can drink a glass of milk with a sense of confidence it won't turn me in to the hulk.
Its just business, nothing personal.
Or They Could...
...give local governments the "right" to filter outgoing search words.
Sorry, no beer.
Business versus Ethics - the eternal battle
Where do you draw the line though?
What if child porn (to borrow a comparison made above) was legal in Madeupistan, should Western firms be allowed to profit from that? They're only following the laws of that country, after all! I certainly wouldn't invest in a company that made money that way, would you?
Was it okay for IBM to profit from the Nazis predilection for mass-murder? Where does business go too far in playing along with evil for profit?
(This isn't a personal attack on jsphsmith1985, by the way, just furthering the debate...)
You´re entirely right but
You´re right about having to abide to the laws of the land. However, it´s still funny to see what MS does in Arabic countries considering their hollier-than-thou attitude regarding Google in China (although after bashing Google censoring searches to abide by Chinese law they gave it hell for menacing to leave China over similar concerns, which might suggest that in the matter MS stance is defined by «whatever Google does is evil and we disagree» rather than by any ethical consideration).
On the other hand...
We're talking Arabic countries here. Not 3rd world. We're talking Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and the like. Some of these countries are MORE democratic than the US with LESS irrelevant religious laws. None of these countries have 'Allahu Akbar` printed on their money, for starters. That would be the equivalent of `in god we trust`. What backward, uneducated country could possibly print that on their money or on their governmental agencies's seals? Certainly not arabic countries, it would take a seriously retarded country to do that. Anyone from the US listening?
Mind you, most arabic countries DO NOT outlaw search terms such as those banned by Bing ( I know, this contradicts my last comments, but I checked in the meantime. Only stupid people can't change their mind). Boo MS Booo!
Making sure our gay Arab brothers and sisters stay in darkness
So you are a terrified closeted gay man or woman in the Arab countries, hoping desperately to make contact with the outside world, for sanity as well as for information, but nope. Bign knows better.
Or they could...
...type www.b ing.fr or www.b ing.co.uk or www.b ing.de instead of the .ma adress (or whatever country they are in) as MS apparently doesn´t filter by location...
Don´t take me wrong, I like to loathingly spit on the Redmondian pile of hypocritical turd as much as anyone (maybe even a bit more), but it´s not even remotely close to what you describe. After all, your (I don´t have any close family in this area of the globe) poor gay brothers in these countries did not have Bing untill very recently, so they probably used another search engine anyway and they can continue to do just that, can´t they?
Filtering = Fail and Stupidity
As someone has already said, Scunthorpe contains the c word. The word Gay is some peoples surname. The word Dick can be someone's surname too or even a first name. Fanny again is a name. Wanker is even a surname, I believe one of those silly US sitcoms either Mork and Mindy or Bewitched had a character with that name. Titty and Ho I believe are the names of a village, Titty-Ho? Spotted dick? Fanny-pack/bum-bag?
None of those "rude" words I have mentioned above are actually rude in the context I have used them. So by blocking them, yeah it might keep people from seeing a bit of porn, but it also blocks tons of non-naughty content too. Bing is stupid, so is any country that insists on filtering, they should grow up.
Re: Filtering = Fail and Stupidity
"The word Gay is some peoples surname."
I recall back in the days I was first learning English (almost 40 years ago), "gay" was just another synonym for "merry" with no other connotations. I wonder when exactly did its meaning change and why?
(Happy face icon, in memory of the old meaning of the word).
What about Human Rights?
Shouldn't they supersede any non-compliant national law?
..They certainly don't in the UK !
Too much crying wolf...
Reading the BBC today internet access is now "basic human rights". So are tons of things, with the list getting longer by the minute. Trouble is, if everything is super important, nothing is really important. You still have tons of people starving, which I would argue is more relevant to the real world.
And, if you want to harp on about homosexual discrimination, why not write your member of parliament and urge her to have your country suspend aid to Uganda till they fix their laws?
Pick your fights wisely and win them. What is classified as human rights should be limited, and governments should be seriously pressured to respect them. Once the important stuff is done with, perhaps Bing's reluctance to go against Middle Eastern backwardness should be assessed.
I do not think unfiltered bing! searched are a basic human right yet
Human rights.... yeah sure
Human rights should supersede local laws. Sure. Human rights forbid the use of civilian-aimed landmines as used bythe US to blanket vietnam (these are still killing kids as we speak). Human rigths say that living conditions in some French prisons are unacceptable. Human rights point out that 2/3 of the death sentences in the US are at best dubious (and Human rights say that death penalty is the sign of of a barbarian system to begin with). Human rights were against murdering tens of thousands civilians during the invasion and occupation of Iraq by the US. Human rights are violated on a dayly basis by Israel with the blessing of almost the whole western world. Human rights forbid Guantanamo, and mobile CIA torture facilities. Human rights say that the UK ID sheme should go down the toilet. Human rights say that the police should not murder a plumber for no good reason, and that no-one should be kept in custody for several days, or even weeks, without even knowing why they are there.. Human rights. Right. They SHOULD supersede national laws, surely. But who are we to force them on other people if we don't respect them outselves?
The first thing I say
every morning is “sex”, “fuck”, “penis”, “sodomy”, “homo”, “sexual”, “sexy”, “clitoris”. Those words are very common so more likely that kiddies will be using them. If they have to filter content I understand why they would use those words.
I wonder if they tried terms like Eiffel tower, cream pie, ham bone, Jersey Shore or Sarah Palin; all which lead directly to images far more disturbing than a little bit of sex fuck penis.
well I'd certainly avoid the Sarah Palin cream pie search but the rest of them don't register with me, maybe I need an education.
(Paris, she probably knows what you mean, nudge nudge, wink wink)
@ Ken 16 re: Sarah Palin etc
Thanks *so* much for that lovely image. Pass the mind-bleach, please.
@ Ken 16 : Innuendo filter
"Sarah Palin cream pie" search is blocked in the middle east ( UAE )
:'( I'll never get to see Sarah Palins Cream Pie
Not missing out on much
I searched for 'Sarah Palin cream pie'; but there were no pictures of her squirting whipped cream between her legs.
I was so disappointed.
"The software vendor did not immediately get back to us with comment about this story at time of writing."
Maybe they did but since their native language was Arabic, Bing filtered out their reply...
And in the US
I'm using it in Texas and it blocks evolution, science, global-warming, greenhouse....
Of course I simply don't understand why its necessary to filter it out In countries such as those. Surely everybody is so religiously inclined they simply wouldn't type in those words anyway, so the only people they are protecting are actually visitors who aren't sexually repressed freaks in the first place. Censorship is all rather strange, all you are doing is protecting people who don't need protecting, and those who do need to be stopped, the crims, paedophiles, drug dealers etc, just use technology to go around the fitlers.
Google as well
Google have enabled safesearch by force as well (in at least Saudi and Bahrain) so not sure why MS is being picked on. Other than the standard "Bill Gates is the devil reasons" of course...
I'm off to test if searching for vagina is blocked or not...http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/thumb_up_32.png
Why do they bother
Not sure why MS is bothering. These countries all have firewalls and filter out the stuff they don't want their citizens to see. Microsoft isn't doing any filtering that isn't already in place.
However noding their head to local sensitivities and supporting government censorship, probably doesn't do any harm when they are selling enterprise software to governments in the region.....
Y'a a Yank ainy'ya
"These countries all have firewalls and filter out the stuff they don't want their citizens to see. Microsoft isn't doing any filtering that isn't already in place."
Equip flail. We're talking about Tunisia, Moroco, Algeria /et al/. A lot of these countries are LESS religiously extremist than the US (none of them has anything like "in god we trust"printed on all their gov agencies and/or their money, for starters). None of them have anything like a state-wide internet firewall. Liberty of speech might not be ideal in some of these countries but none have anything even close to Guantanamo in terms of barbary. In major cities trangender people are accepted as they want to be, while this is still a criminal offense in some US states. Look at yourself, US: you are one of the most backwards country in the world;even half of Africa is ahead of you when it comes to human rights.
Re: Why do they bother
Pure bullshit. Check your facts. We're not talking China or Australia here. Arabic countries do not have state-wide filtering firewalls in place. However, the head-noding part is spot on: the brown-enveloppe department is probably the most efficient part of MS business.