Microsoft blocks messenger in 5 countries

May 24, 2009

According to Ars Technica, microsoft is now blocking messenger on Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan, and North Korea “due to US economic sanctions”. Call me old fashioned, but I’m really uncomfortable with restraining people on the internet.

Live Messenger is a way to communicate with other people. It’s rather disappointing that a company as Microsoft would bend to an economic sanction from its home country, restraining the ways people can talk to other people. Right now, it’s not clear if it was a government request or an independent decision.

Think about the role of communication on wars, like the Vietnam War (through press). Nowadays, it should be even simpler (and faster): We would know everything through twitter, live. But by restraining OUR access to information, microsoft is telling us that, as far as they’re concerned, we shouldn’t hear about it. This is the kind of behavior we expect from governments.

Internet is the best place for people who lives in freedom-limited countries to express themselves and get access to information outside the box. It’s the hardest medium of information to control. Thus, microsoft is actually helping the oppressing governments to keep the population uninformed and ignorant.

If it was an independent decision made by microsoft, I can’t understand what happened. The question here is: Why now? Why only messenger? What is the next free microsoft product embargoed?

But, if this was a request from the US government, this stuff is even more serious. Most of the world’s internet infrastructure is located in the US (take also a look here). Thus, they CAN restrain most of internet traffic if wanted. If they start believing this is a good path to follow, the internet as we know (the best place for freedom of speech) will probably be doomed (until we can set up a whole new infrastructure, what can take years).

I believe there is more behind it than we know right now. When I manage to get an update about this, I’ll post it here.


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