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MSN to shut chat rooms in 28 countries

Our Bureau

Bangalore , Sept. 24

IN a bid to protect its users from unsolicited information such as spam and children from inappropriate communication online, Microsoft Corporation said on Wednesday that it would close down MSN Chat room services in 28 countries including India by October 14.

While chat services will be shut down in Europe, West Asia, Africa, Asia and Latin American markets, unmoderated MSN chat will only be available to subscribing customers in the US, Canada and Japan, said a company press release.

"We've made these changes because online chat services are increasingly being misused. These changes will improve protection for MSN users when it comes to spam and inappropriate communication," said Ms Judy Gibbons, Corporate Vice President of MSN International said. Communication about the changes to Internet Chat rooms will be posted on several locations on MSN Chat from Wednesday.

Mr Rajnish. R, head of marketing, MSN India told Business Line that instances like child abuse online or misuse of chat room have not been reported in the Indian market. The decision to shut down chat rooms was a global one and was more largely to prevent security issues and spamming, he said.

However, the shut down of chat services will not affect the MSN Instant Messenger, which will continue to be an integral part MSN's growth strategy, the release said. MSN Messenger offers many of the same benefits of MSN Chat while providing consumers with greater control over whom they communicate, it said.

This initiative is the latest in a series of measures to be announced by MSN and Microsoft in the battle against inappropriate use of the Internet. Early in April this year Microsoft announced it had joined forces with Yahoo and AOL in a joint global initiative to tackle spam by a co-ordinated approach to technology, enforcement, education and legislation.

Globally MSN has worked with charities and government organisations on the issue of child protection online. MSN International has appointed its own child protection expert to co-ordinate technology and education initiatives across the world.

In the UK for example, MSN is a key member of the Home Office Task Force on Child Safety and works with UK police, children's charities and industry watchdogs on the best long-term solutions to stamp out the industry wide issue of child abuse online, the release said.

Additionally, these changes are a reflection of the increasing popularity of MSN Messenger as the real-time communication option of choice for consumers. MSN has over 100 million unique users around the world using MSN Messenger each month. MSN will be making extensive investments in MSN Messenger V6 and will continue to update all its services based on feedback from our customers and on smart business practices, the release said.

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