The New York Times Blog has been following up complaints from would-be Hotmail users who have been told that they cannot have a username which includes the letters “tibet”.
Big American tech companies have given us plenty of reasons to be cynical about how far they will go to keep China’s leaders happy and keep their fingers in the Chinese market … And China’s leaders would prefer that everyone just not mention those unruly Tibetans, especially with the Olympics on the way. But would the Chinese regime really feel threatened by the creation of, say, ILoveTibet@hotmail.com? And even if it did, would Microsoft really agree to help perpetuate that insecurity?
A Microsoft spokeswoman had a different explanation. The company blocks usernames that include the names of various financial institutions. This is meant to make life harder for those seeking to impersonate a bank using an official-looking e-mail address in order to steal customers’ passwords. In this case Microsoft is blocking usernames containing “tib,” apparently to protect customers of TIB Bank in Florida.