INTERNET SEARCH ENGINE Bing has been accused of censoring Chinese language search engine results even outside of mainland China.
Censorship laws in China mean that results deemed inappropriate by Chinese authorities must be removed, however Chinese freedom of speech advocacy group Greatfire.org has accused Microsoft's Bing of censoring politically sensitive results, including entries relating to the Dali Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who is viewed as a 'terrorist' by the Chinese government.
Reuters received a statement from Bing senior director Stefan Weitz denying that the omissions were deliberate but rather were made in error.
"Due to an error in our system, we triggered an incorrect results removal notification for some searches noted in the report but the results themselves are and were unaltered outside of China."
Microsoft has already been criticised for censorship of its Chinese version of Skype, but this has been removed from more recent editions after a change of partners in the joint venture.
The juxtaposition of China's public face as a bastion of free speech and the realities of its Great Firewall censorship that 'protects' its citizens from dissident views remains a wonder in the age of social media, but companies such as Microsoft remain keen to take advantage of the biggest potential market in the world.
Within China, Microsoft has released its statement to the Chinese media without mentioning greatfire.org or addressing the accusations directly, with a Chinese Microsoft spokeswoman explaining, "There were too many points in the original statement."
Which tells us all we need to know, or rather, doesn't, we reckon. µ