Rep. Smith on Microsoft: Search censorship 'enabling tyranny' in China

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) is calling on Microsoft to follow Google's lead and cease "enabling tyranny" in China by censoring content on its Bing search engine.

"They need to get with the program and join the side of human rights," Smith, the ranking member on the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, said of Microsoft during a hearing Wednesday.

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The congressman later praised Google for its decision this week to stop censoring content on Google.cn, even though that significant policy shift has forced the search company to begin phasing out its Chinese search business altogether.

Nevertheless, Microsoft is hardly the only company that censors content in China, pursuant to the state's strict Web restriction rules: Any Internet firm that does business in the state -- from the local-grown Baidu search engine to Google, until just this week -- must adhere to Beijing's guidelines, or risk losing access to the state's vast Internet economy.

Google too adhered to those rules until earlier this year, when company executives discovered a vast cyberattack targeting their Gmail server in January actually orginated in China. The two sides initilly tried to negotiate an amicable resolution to that standoff, but Google nonetheless followed through with its threat to cease censoring search results.

So far, only one Web company has followed suit: GoDaddy.com, the world's largest domain-name provider, which announced Wednesday it would no longer service new domain names in China.

Still, it remains whether other tech giants -- including Google's search rival, Microsoft -- will respond similarly.