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Fear and Freedom on the Internet

Earlier this month it was reported that, at the request of China’s rulers, Microsoft shut down the Web site of a Chinese blogger that was maintained on a Microsoft service called MSN Spaces. The blogger, Zhao Jing, had been reporting on a strike by journalists at The Beijing News that followed the dismissal of the newspaper’s independent-minded editor.

Microsoft’s action raises a key question: can the Internet really be a force for freedom that repressive governments cannot control as easily as newspapers, radio, and television?