Bing shuts down Microsoft’s autofill feature in China, citing local laws

SINGAPORE – Microsoft Body

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Bing said it has suspended the auto-complete suggestion feature in China to comply with Chinese laws, while some users in the country said the search engine has become inaccessible.

On Friday, Bing’s website in China published a notice saying it “was required by the relevant government agency to suspend the automatic search suggestion feature in mainland China for 30 days” in accordance with Chinese laws. This did not explain how the laws regulated the autofill feature.

As of around Thursday, some China-based Bing users discovered that they couldn’t open the search engine’s website, although others could still use the service.

Bing, the last major foreign search engine operating in China after Google pulled its search engine out of the country in 2010, was still not available to some users on Friday in at least nine provinces and regions, including Beijing, Guangdong, Hubei. , Shanghai and Sichuan, according to Wall Street Journal checks.

Bing’s service disruption is the latest headache for Microsoft in China, where the U.S. tech giant has been caught in increasingly difficult situations this year as Beijing tightens its control over online content.

A spokesperson for the Redmond, Wash., Company said she was aware of the situation and was investigating. China’s cybersecurity regulator, the Chinese Cyberspace Administration, did not respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this year, Microsoft users pointed out that the company was censoring China-related content on its platforms. In June, Bing users noted that US searches for the term “Tank Man” – an iconic image of a man standing alone in the path of a column of army tanks after the massacre in the square Tiananmen in China in 1989 – on the search engine did not return any hits on the anniversary of the event. Microsoft said it was accidental human error.

Also in June, the Journal reported that academics and journalists were told their LinkedIn profiles would be blocked in China because they contained content considered problematic by Chinese laws. A spokesperson for LinkedIn said at the time that if the company supported free speech, offering a localized version of LinkedIn in China meant meeting the Chinese government’s online censorship requirements.

In October, Microsoft announced that it would shut down social functions on its LinkedIn platform in China as part of increased regulatory oversight.

China’s internet and content controls, already among the tightest in the world, have been tightened this year ahead of a major political meeting in 2022 that is expected to appoint current President Xi Jinping as head of China for a rare third term.

This month, China’s internet regulator said it fined social media giant Weibo Corp.

and the popular content platform millions of dollars for content offenses that it said violated the laws and rules of the country.

On the Twitter-like Weibo platform, Chinese netizens said they were unsure if Bing was blocked in the country. Those who could not access it deplored the disappearance of the search engine.

Bing, launched in China in 2009, is the country’s third most popular search engine, according to data from analytics firm StatCounter. Baidu Inc.

search tool is dominant with around 87% market share in November 2021. Sogou, a unit of Chinese technology giant Tencent Holdings Ltd.

, follows with 5% and Bing with 4%, StatCounter figures show.

In China, Bing’s website was also temporarily disrupted in January 2019, when the search portal was down for a few days. Microsoft then said it didn’t know why this happened.

Write to Liza Lin at [email protected]

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