Many of the tech blogs are apprehensive about Microsoft’s update to its Service Agreement. Yet another super-corporation is falling in line with Jello Biafra’s “Ban Everything” America. That horrid and stifling new puritanism that we’ve discussed at length with regard to Kroger, Citibank, Dick’s, Wal-Mart, and others.
It’s manifesting itself in this bit of the Code of Conduct:
iv. Don’t publicly display or use the Services to share inappropriate content or material (involving, for example, nudity, bestiality, pornography, offensive language, graphic violence, or criminal activity).
“Offensive language”. Oh, boy. This again. The enforcement provision is chilling.
b. Enforcement. If you violate these Terms, we may stop providing Services to you or we may close your Microsoft account. We may also block delivery of a communication (like email, file sharing or instant message) to or from the Services in an effort to enforce these Terms or we may remove or refuse to publish Your Content for any reason. When investigating alleged violations of these Terms, Microsoft reserves the right to review Your Content in order to resolve the issue. However, we cannot monitor the entire Services and make no attempt to do so.
I’m a bit confused about how they’ll flag individual emails with objectionable content but that they’re not going to monitor everything. It almost seems like it will be as arbitrarily enforced as Twitter’s rules on “hate speech”.
Is this really something to be concerned about though? Well, yes. Yes, I think so. The Big Tech companies have proven time and time again that they will happily sacrifice free speech in the name of their preferred social agendas, deny the use of their products and services to those with the “wrong” opinions even where no violations of the Terms of Service or laws occurred, and trample the privacy of users where it suits their purposes. We have absolutely no reason to trust Microsoft.
Microsoft, with its enormous market share and power (as billions of people are dependent on its products) can do enormous damage. I’m not singling them out, of course. This mentality has gripped too many corporations already. It’s the very idea that the mega-corporations not only know that they’re all-powerful, but that they have a duty to use that power to “right the wrongs” and pursue justice as they deem it to be just that irritates the ever-living shit out of me.
Free expression in America is entering a new dark age. All this time, we thought it would come from the government or churches. Instead, it’s to be tyranny by private enterprise.