Microsoft Changes Blog Policies

The Redmond software company, which operates a popular blogging technology called MSN Spaces, said Tuesday that the changes will include efforts to make the banned content available to users elsewhere in the world even if Microsoft decides it has a legal duty to block it in a particular country.

The company also pledged to provide users with a clear notice that it has shut down a Web site because it received a legally binding notice that the material violates local laws. Previously, it has simply said the content was unavailable.

Brad Smith, Microsoft’s top lawyer, said in an interview that it will depend on the circumstances of the shutdown as to whether the new policy means that an archive of the blog will remain available elsewhere, or that the Web blog’s author will be able to continue posting information to users outside the country that ordered the blockage.

“Some of this, I think, we just have to recognize is evolving technology and changing law,” said Smith, speaking by phone from a Microsoft-sponsored government conference in Lisbon, Portugal.

MSN Spaces, which allows users to post journals, pictures and other content on the Internet, boasts 35 million users, including 3.3 million in China.

The company has maintained that it is important to be able to provide users in other countries with such tools, even as it insists it is bound by local laws when it operates in those places.

“We think that blogging and similar tools are powerful vehicles for economic development and for creativity and free expression. They are tools that do good,” Smith said. “We believe that it’s better to make these tools available than not, but that isn’t the end of the discussion, either.”

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