Microsoft has issued new policies against “offensive language” and “inappropriate content” on its various platforms and services.
Set to take effect May 1, 2018, the freshly developed rules will allow the massive tech company the ability to investigate private accounts on Skype, Xbox, and other applications.
Microsoft says in a summary of the changes that “violation of the Code of Conduct through Xbox Services may result in suspensions or bans from participation in Xbox Services, including forfeiture of content licenses, Xbox Gold Membership time, and Microsoft account balances associated with the account.” For the most part, the same goes for Skype and Microsoft Office Suite.
“When investigating alleged violations of these Terms, Microsoft reserves the right to review Your Content in order to resolve the issue,” the company states. “However, we cannot monitor the entire Services and make no attempt to do so.”
The change, though, is not due to the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), a prospective law that passed both chambers of Congress in recent weeks and holds certain companies liable for their users’ actions and operations. (RELATED: How A Law That Will Allegedly Help Stop Online Sex Trafficking May Undermine The Internet)
“We are committed to providing our customers with safe and secure experiences while using our services,” a Microsoft spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The recent changes to the Microsoft Service Agreement’s Code of Conduct provide transparency on how we respond to customer reports of inappropriate public content.”
FOSTA is intended to help limit the number of sex traffickers using the internet. But some, like Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, argue it may have the opposite effect by pushing such illicit behavior “to shadowy corners,” while also curtailing what has appeared to allow the internet ecosystem, and thus the economy, to prosper — a lack of legal liability for what thousands, even millions of users do.
Somewhat like FOSTA, many people are not too keen on the idea that companies should decide what constitutes “inappropriate conduct” or “offensive language,” or at least getting aggressive with such kind of content or deeds. At the same time, others, including elected officials, constantly call for big tech companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google to do more to stop terrorists from communicating and organizing, and hate speech from appearing.
In other words, people are both respectively uncomfortable with tech companies doing too little — not catching more vitriolic people or evildoers — and too much — suppressing generally harmless speech and inappropriately removing accounts.
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