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MSN to shut down chat rooms in India, 27 countries

Last updated on: September 24, 2003 15:46 IST

Microsoft Corporation will shut down chat room services in India and 27 other countries in a phased manner, which will be complete by October 14.

The move means that MSN chat rooms in most of Europe, West Asia, Africa, Asia and Latin America will shut down.

The decision, says the company, is aimed at warding off paedophiles and junk emailers. In a statement the software giant said the decision was prompted by the growing abuse in unsupervised, anonymous chat rooms.

The statement also pointed to spam and junk mail, especially material offensive and dangerous to children.

"Recently we have become increasingly concerned about the level of inappropriate communication, including spam, the grooming of children by paedophiles, and sexually explicit language and imagery in chat rooms," MSN spokesman Matt Whittingham told CNN.

"The straightforward truth of the matter is free unmoderated chat isn't safe," Geoff Sutton, European general manager of Microsoft MSN, told a news agency. "This is a decision based upon consumer experiences, child protection and our strategic investment to build up MSN Messenger."

The company, however, will continue to offer unsupervised chat room access to users who subscribe to at least one other paid MSN service in the United States, Canada, Japan and Brazil.

In those countries MSN says it has customers' billing details and identities on record and can track down suspicious users if need be.

Microsoft competes with AOL Time Warner's Internet unit and Yahoo Inc in the hotly contested instant messaging market.