Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Shame on you, Yahoo!!

A sad story from The Times: the search engine Yahoo! supplied information to Beijing authorities and a chinese journalist was sent to jail for ten years.

More business for Yahoo! and 10 years of jail for somebody who doesn't want to live in a dictatorship! Well done, Yahoo!

Yahoo! chief was ‘moral pygmy’ over aid to jailing in Beijing
November 7, 2007
Suzy Jagger in New York

Washington yesterday accused the chief executive of Yahoo! of being morally stunted after the search engine supplied information to Beijing authorities that led to the imprisonment of a Chinese journalist.

At a hearing in Washington, Jerry Yang, chief executive of Yahoo!, was told that he was a “moral pygmy” despite being a technological and financial giant, because he authorised that confidential data about Yahoo! users be turned over to the Beijing authorities.

Shi Tao, a journalist in China, was sent to jail for ten years for engaging in pro-democracy efforts perceived by Beijing as subversive after Yahoo! supplied information about his online activities requested by the authorities.

Both Mr Yang and Yahoo!’s general counsel, Michael Callahan, were questioned yesterday by the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Commitee. Tom Lantos, its chairman, said: “I do not believe that America’s best and brightest companies should be playing integral roles in China’s notorious and brutal political repression apparatus.”

Chris Smith, a committee member, compared Yahoo!’s cooperation with China’s Governnment to companies that cooperated with Nazi Germany.

Human rights groups have long accused Yahoo! of helping China to stifle the flow of ideas in exchange for greater access to the country’s rapidly growing internet market. In 2005, Yahoo! bought a 40 per cent stake in China’s biggest online commerce group.

Mr Yang said that Yahoo! “has been open and forthcoming with this committee at every step of this investigative process”.

Mr Callahan said that Yahoo! staff in China had little choice but to comply with government demands. He said: “I cannot ask our local employees to resist lawful demands and put their freedom at risk, even if, in my personal view, the local laws are overbroad.”

Shi Tao had forwarded foreign human rights groups an e-mail from the Chinese authorities that told journalists to avoid coverage of the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests. Mr Yang apologised to Mr Shi’s family and claimed that it was trying to help to get him released.

Mr Callahan would not say whether there were outstanding demands for information by Beijing or, if so, whether Yahoo! would react the same way.

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