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September 08, 2005

Yahoo and the Imprisoned Journalist

Greatwall-TmBy now you may have heard that Yahoo helped Chinese authorities track down a Chinese journalist (via his Chinese Yahoo email) who was subsequently jailed for "leaking state secrets" or somesuch brilliant bullshit. Here's the SJMN coverage (reg) and Search Engine Journal's coverage.

From the Merc:

Yahoo has provoked the ire of a media watchdog group for allegedly giving information to the Chinese government that led to the jailing of a Chinese journalist for leaking state secrets.

roversy adds Yahoo to a growing list of U.S. companies that have faced scrutiny for their business dealings in China, a country that is coveted by businesses for its booming economy and reviled by activists for its censorship and human rights abuses....

....China's ``Public Pledge on Self-discipline for the Chinese Internet Industry,'' (is) a document signed by Yahoo and some other U.S. companies. The pledge commits signatories to make ``energetic efforts to carry forward the rich cultural tradition of the Chinese nation and the ethical norms of the socialist cultural civilization'' by observing all state industry regulations, according to the group Human Rights Watch. In particular, the document asks signatories to refrain ``from producing, posting, or disseminating pernicious information that may jeopardize state security and disrupt social stability.''

I've written about how Google struggled with this issue, and has gotten a fair amount of grief for it, but Yahoo and others have the same struggle. I pinged my contacts at Yahoo and all they could say was this:

"Just like any other global company, Yahoo! must ensure that its local country sites must operate within the laws, regulations and customs of the country in which they are based."

How I wish these companies had the backbone to at least say what happened was wrong, that the Chinese system is wrong, that they regret they are in this position. Take a stand - say what I know you must feel! One can have an opinion, and still "operate within the laws, regulations and customs of the country in which they are based." Or is it also the law in China that US corporations can't have an opinion?

Posted by dymaxion at September 8, 2005 09:33 PM


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