Microsoft will not change China operations, official says

The company will continue to support free expression but not change its business in China, according to a senior manager

Microsoft has noted Google's recent move to stop censoring its search engine in China, but will continue to do business there, a senior company official said Wednesday.

Microsoft believes that it should be engaged in global markets and will continue to support free expression, transparency and the rule of law, said Cornelia Kutterer, senior manager for regulatory policy in Brussels.

"We have done business in China for over 20 years, and we intend to continue our business in China," she said.

Kutterer gave a presentation on Wednesday at the Council of Europe's conference on cybercrime, an annual meeting of law enforcement, security experts and government officials discussing the Convention on Cybercrime treaty.

Technology companies have come under periodic scrutiny for how their products may be used by the Chinese government to withhold information it deems sensitive. The companies have generally defended themselves by saying they must comply with Chinese laws in order to do business there.

Kutterer spoke about the Global Network Initiative (GNI), an organization which focuses on freedom and privacy issues on the Internet. The GNI was launched in October 2008 in part out of continuing concern for how technology companies were operating in countries such as China with strict censorship regimes.

Google and Yahoo are among the members of the GNI. On Monday, Google said it would redirect users of its Chinese site Google.cn to an uncensored search engine based in Hong Kong after the Chinese government said it would not allow the company to run an unfiltered search engine on "google.cn." Users are now being redirected to "google.com.hk."

Google's changes to its search engine came after it said in January it was targeted by hackers. More than 20 other technology, financial and software companies were targeted, with an aim to steal intellectual property and intelligence on human rights activists, Google said.

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Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
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