HomeWinBuzzer NewsBing's Search Engine Censorship in China Sparks Bipartisan Concern in the US

Bing’s Search Engine Censorship in China Sparks Bipartisan Concern in the US

US lawmakers criticize Microsoft for allegedly censoring Bing search results in China to comply with local laws.

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Microsoft has come under increasing criticism from US lawmakers over allegations that its Bing search engine has been censoring search results in China. These allegations suggest that Bing is removing or filtering out search results related to topics deemed sensitive by the Chinese government, such as human rights, democracy, and climate change. Senators from both the Republican and Democratic parties have voiced their concerns, with Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democrat Senator Mark Warner leading the charge against the tech giant’s practices.

Bipartisan Criticism

The criticism from US senators highlights a growing concern over American companies’ compliance with Chinese censorship laws. Senator Rubio has stated that there is “no defending” Microsoft’s actions, accusing the company of making concessions to what he describes as a “genocidal, authoritarian regime.” On the other hand, Senator Warner has suggested that Microsoft should consider withdrawing Bing from the Chinese market altogether, rather than facilitating censorship. Warner’s stance is supported by the fact that other US companies, including Google and Yahoo, have previously ceased delivering search results via their own engines in China, in response to censorship demands.

Microsoft’s Response and Justification

In response to the allegations, Microsoft has defended its operations in China, asserting that Bing provides a valuable service to Chinese users by offering access to information that might otherwise be unavailable. A spokesperson for Microsoft told The Register, “Bing is the least censored search engine in China and is often the only accessible source for volumes of information there, even if we must eliminate certain results under Chinese law.” The company claims to comply with Chinese laws only when presented with a legal order that obligates them to do so, and insists that it regularly challenges orders that do not comply with what it interprets as the proper application of Chinese rules.

The controversy surrounding Bing’s operations in China underscores the complex balance between providing access to information and complying with local censorship laws. While Microsoft maintains that its presence in the Chinese market offers net benefits in terms of information access, the criticism from US lawmakers suggests a growing scrutiny of how American tech companies navigate censorship demands from authoritarian regimes. The debate continues as to whether companies like Microsoft should remain in markets where censorship is prevalent, or withdraw to take a stand against restrictions on freedom of information.

Bing’s History in China

Bing has an interesting history in China, but is currently enjoying great success in the country. Five years ago, Bing was put on China’s great firewall blocklist of services banned in the country. The search tool was later reinstated by had a further 7-day suspension in 2022. Despite the ups and downs, Bing last year became the most used search engine in China, overtaking Baidu. 

SourceBloomberg
Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.