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Are MS and Hotmail censoring Tibet-related email?

Sign up for Hotmail or Windows Live, but just don't bother any Floridian banks, ok

After yesterday's interminable opening ceremony, China may be hoping the world's Olympic fascination will make people forget about trivial matters like, ooh, Tibet.

That's what several bloggers have suggested recently when pointing out that they can't sign up to Hotmail or Windows Live with a new username that features the word Tibet or any derivative. Could Microsoft be in cahoots with the Chinese propaganda machine?

Bank protection

According to MS, the answer is far less menacing – apparently, the three-letter string TIB is on a blacklist because it could be used by spammers wanting to spoof email addresses of a small US bank.

We're told that Florida's TIB Bank desperately needs this protection, so words like Tibet, Tiberius and tibia all get the kibosh too.

Unlikely exception

However, the odd fact that other banks and financial institution names aren't blacklisted still sticks out like a sore thumb in the middle of such a smooth disclaimer.

Better yet, prospective Hotmail users can sign up using terms like Apple, Sony and even Windows Live. What's really going on?