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Friday, February 3, 2023
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Microsoft Forced to Suspend ‘Auto Suggest’ Feature in China, a New Form of Censorship

While auto suggest may include results that are more relevant for the user, China wants results to be ranked by usefulness for the state and its monopoly on power

(John RansomHeadline USA) In what may be a sign of harassment or a sign of future censorship, China has ordered the Microsoft search engine Bing to suspend the use of its “auto suggest” feature for seven days, the second time that’s such a request has been made, according to Reuters.

Auto suggest uses predictive technology, said Algolia, a company that makes interfaces for these types of searches,  to help users find more relevant information speedier by searching a practically infinite set of keywords quickly to rank the relevancy for the user.

And that may be what is scaring China.

China has recently passed a series of laws aimed at telling computer companies what they can and can’t use algorithms for in regards to data collection and is in the process of deciding how to implement the new laws.

Unlike data collection laws proposed in the West, which are focused on protecting the privacy of the user, Chinese data security laws are aimed at protecting Chinese national security, namely the Chinese state, rather than the individual user.

“The Data Security Law (DSL) sets up a framework that classifies data collected and stored in China based on its potential impact on Chinese national security and regulates its storage and transfer depending on the data’s classification level,” said Skadden, a legal firm that specializes in Chinese law for western companies.

While auto suggest may include results that are more relevant for the user, China wants results to be ranked by usefulness for the state and its monopoly on power.

In December China ordered Bing to suspend the auto suggest feature for a period of 30 days according to ANI, a news service in South Asia.

In November, when China passed these new data security laws, Yahoo announced that it would be pulling out of mainland China, citing a challenging environment for Internet companies that rely on data collection, said Reuters.

“In recognition of the increasingly challenging business and legal environment in China, Yahoo’s suite of services will no longer be accessible from mainland China as of November 1,” a Yahoo spokesperson told Reuters in an email.

Previously, Reuters had reported that Microsoft subsidiary LinkedIn was also leaving China for the same reason.

The contrast between the treatment of these tech companies in the West and in China, serves to highlight how the Big Tech companies only want censorship that helps them not hurts them.

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