China Orders Microsoft Bing To Suspend Auto-suggest Function

Last remaining major foreign search engine still operating in China, ordered to suspend its auto-suggest function by local authorities

China continues its online clampdown after Microsoft on Friday said it was ordered by Chinese authorities to suspend the auto-suggest function in its Bing search engine.

Microsoft’s Bing search engine is the last remaining foreign major search engine operating in China, and in order to comply with China’s strict regulations, it has to censor its results in the country.

Google of course pulled its search engine and other services from China in 2010, after it refused China’s censorship demands, after its services there were hacked by Chinese attackers.

Bing order

Microsoft said on its Chinese search site on Friday that it has been required by a “relevant government agency” to suspend its auto suggest function in China for 30 days, Reuters reported.

“Bing China has been required by the relevant government agency to suspend the search auto-suggestion feature in mainland China for 30 days” it reportedly stated.

Redmond did not elaborate on the exact reason for this order.

“Bing is a global search platform and remains committed to respect the rule of law and users’ right to access information,” Bing added.

China clampdown

Foreign tech companies are finding it increasingly challenging to continue operating in mainland China.

Last month Yahoo joined the growing list of US-based tech giants pulling operations out of China, citing an “increasingly challenging business and legal environment.”

At the same time Epic Games withdrew the Chinese version of Fortnite, its popular battle-royale game, from mainland China.

In August the Chinese media watchdog had imposed a new rule that online gamers under the age of 18 were banned from playing computer games on weekdays, and were limited to playing online to just three hours most weekends.

In October Microsoft announced it was shutting down its local version of LinkedIn in mainland China.

The software giant cited the increased censorship China is practising online, as the principle reason for the closure.

It replaced the social network with a job search website.

LinkedIn was the last major US-operated social network still operating in China.

Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook have been blocked for more than a decade in China.

Google famously decided to shutter its China operations in 2010, after a notorious hacking incident in 2009 and 2010.

A decade ago, Google accused Chinese-based hackers of carrying out the attacks on the Gmail accounts of dissidents.