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Web censorship can't withhold info: Gates

Microsoft Corp Chairman Bill Gates says attempts by governments to censor website contents are doomed.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2006 13:41 IST

Microsoft Corp Chairman Bill Gates said that attempts by governments to censor website contents were doomed.

Gates said banned information can seep out despite official injunctions.

"The ability to really withhold information no longer exists," Gates told a government forum on the Internet.

Gates said his company must comply with legal requirements in the countries where it operates.

Late last year, Microsoft shut down the site of a popular Chinese blogger at Beijing's request. The blog by Zhao Jing, writing under the pen name An Ti, appraised sensitive topics such as China's relations with Taiwan and media freedom in China.

But the spread of free, private e-mail enabled users to disseminate information anyway, Gates said on Wednesday.

"You may be able to take a very visible website and say that something shouldn't be there, but if there's a desire by the population to know something ... It's going to get out very broadly via e-mail," Gates said.

Some of Microsoft's rivals, including Google Inc and Yahoo Inc, also have hit problems with censorship in foreign countries.

Brad Smith, Microsoft's top lawyer, said on Tuesday the company was tightening its policies regarding blocking Web journals.

The software company, based in Redmond, Washington, operates a popular blogging technology called MSN Spaces.

Smith said the changes would include efforts to make the banned content available to users elsewhere in the world even if Microsoft decided it had a legal duty to block it in a particular country.

First Published: Feb 02, 2006 13:41 IST