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China requires Microsoft’s Bing to suspend auto-suggest feature

SHANGHAI (CNA) – Microsoft Corp’s Bing, the only major foreign search engine available in China, said a “relevant government agency” required it to suspend its auto-suggest function in China for seven days.

The suspension marks the second of its kind for Bing since December, and arrives amid an ongoing crackdown on technology platforms and algorithms from Beijing.

Chinese Internet users first spotted the suspension on Saturday.

“Bing is a global search platform and remains committed to respecting the rule of law and users’ right to access information,” Bing said on its Chinese search site.

Bing did not specify a reason for the suspension. Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Internet companies in China have been hit over the past year by a regulatory crackdown that imposed fresh curbs on areas from content to customer privacy.

In August, Beijing’s top cyber regulator published draft rules dictating how Internet platforms can and cannot make use of algorithms.

A finalised version of the rules came into effect this month.

A smartphone with the Microsoft Bing logo is displayed against the backdrop of the China flag. PHOTO: CNA