Microsoft Bing’s outage last week (24 January) was the result of a technical error rather than a deliberate attempt by the Chinese government to censor the search engine, reports Reuters.
However, neither the Chinese authorities nor Microsoft’s executives have issued a statement, confirming the report. Also, access to Bing was restored only to a few users on the same day following hours of outage.
Bing was the only search engine based outside of China which was accessible to Chinese users from within the country’s ‘Great Firewall.’ The engine was allowed to continue operations in the authoritarian state as Microsoft agreed to censor search results on sensitive topics as per Chinese government policy.
Experts suggest that Bing’s outage was caused by “black-holing” rather than by domain name service (DNS) poisoning. While the latter is the default method employed by China to block unfavourable sites under the Great Firewall, the former is a less invasive method and Bing could have been blocked accidentally.
“We have no idea if it was an accident or not, but it’s much easier to make the mistake of blocking Bing when you’re blocking a set of IP addresses (using the black-holing method),” said Express VPN Vice President Harold Li to Reuters.
Google Also Had Plans To Enter China
In December 2018, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai had told a US Congress Committee that 100 Google engineers were working on a censored search engine for China at some point. However, he added that the company did not currently have any ‘plans’ to launch a search engine in China.
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