– UPDATE – We have confirmation of censorship in Yahoo Image search. Unlike Bing, Yahoo is not currently censoring web searches. Screenshot here.
It seems that Bing and Yahoo are bowing to governmental pressure and censoring search results that relate to certain explicit terms.
If you would like to see the ban in action, follow this link and search for “sex. Or, click on this link here, where I have done it for you. As our initial source TechYoYo points out, this means that you can no longer search for “sex discrimination,” as that has a banned word. Test that here.
These changes are coming about due to India’s Information Technology Act (passed in 2000), which did ban pornographic material. It is now being enforced in new ways. We do not at this time have an exhaustive list of what terms are banned, but you can guess the vein that they lie in.
However, as you might have guessed, there is a way around this. Merely head into your account and change your country to any Western nation, and the ban is lifted. Head here to do so.
Easy to hack through, but very annoying to the average user. Comically, SafeSearch in Bing is now forcibly turned on, at all times. If you attempt to change that in your account (if set to India), you see this:
Given that I am sure that that is hard to decipher, the text reads as follows: “Your country or region requires a strict Bing SafeSearch setting, which filters out results that might return adult content. To learn more about SafeSearch requirements in your country or region, see How Bing delivers search results.”
I was unable to test Yahoo, if anyone reading this can corroborate the claims (I have yet to see a denial, but I would appreciate a screenshot), please post in the comments.
Google is the only major search engine that appears to not be blocking certain results in India. However, given their history in China, that could be temporary.
This is a move in the wrong direction. The internet is based on the free and open exchange of information, not on blocked results, and closed pathways. If you can, make some noise about this. Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google need to use their weight to push against such actions. This is a sad day for the internet.
Read next: Heroes meets Planet Of The Apps