Instant Messaging Banned by Google and AOL, Not Just Microsoft
Article by George Norman
On 01 Jun 2009
Before you get all hyper about the title, it must be said that just some parts of the world are affected. As you might remember, we recently reported that Microsoft does not allow users from countries like Cuba or North Korea from accessing its IM client, Live Messenger. The simple explanation for this phenomenon is this: if you live in a country that is embargoed by the US (Cuba, Syria, Iran, Sudan and North Korea) you will receive an error message when trying to sign into Live Messenger.

The official explanation provided by Microsoft is this: “When you try to sign in to Windows Live Messenger, you receive the following error message: ‘810003c1: We were unable to sign you in to the .NET Messenger Service.’ Microsoft has discontinued providing Instant Messenger services in certain countries subject to United States sanctions. Details of these sanctions are available from the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control.”


Google is following in Microsoft’s footsteps and has confirmed that it will ban access to its IM client as well. Google Talk, which now comes with the option to play games right in the software app (details here), cannot be downloaded by people in Sudan. According to a Google spokesperson, this move was taken due to “U.S. export controls and economic sanctions regulations.” On top of this Google will also ban all downloads of its satellite mapping software, Google Earth, as well.

AOL is joining the “ban bandwagon” as well and may cut access to its IM client. Official word from the company is that it “takes its responsibilities under the sanctions programs administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control seriously and has implemented policies and procedures designed to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. For various reasons, AOL does not disclose the details of its internal compliance program.”

No word yet on what will Yahoo! do with its Yahoo! Messenger IM client.

Tags: Microsoft, Live Messenger, Google, Google Talk, AOL
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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