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Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang speaks in front of the parents of a jailed journalist  (Source: AP)
Yahoo executives again receive abuse over the company's role in Chinese politics

Two Yahoo officials yesterday went to Capitol Hill to defend Yahoo's actions regarding the jailing of Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist accused of leaking state secrets. Tao is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence stemming from pro-democracy efforts that landed him in hot water.

Republicans and Democrats grilled Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang and Yahoo general counsel Michael Callahan during the three-hour session over Yahoo's actions in China.

"While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are Pygmies," said Rep. Tom Lantos, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman.

With Tao's family sitting in attendance, Yang apologized to the family and the committee, while promising to help try and get Tao released from prison. The wife of imprisoned Chinese dissident Wang Xiaoning, was also present to speak during the hearing yesterday.

Tao was arrested and placed in jail after Yahoo China voluntarily turned over information to the government three years ago. Wang Xiaoning used a Yahoo account in 2002 to "advocate open elections" in China, which led to an eventual prison sentence.

"I am very happy that I saw and I heard the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and other congressmen criticize and condemn Yahoo for having lied to the Congress," said Gao Qinsheng, Tao's mother.

As Yahoo, Google and other search engine companies try to tap into the booming Chinese Internet market, they've had to agree to censorship and other rules that would likely be impossible in the United States. For example, Yahoo was strongly criticized last spring after turning over Internet records to the Chinese government -- which led to imprisonment and torture.

Yahoo is now working on different methods to ensure user data does not end up in the hands of repressive regimes in other nations.

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RE: In reality
By wallijonn on 11/8/2007 9:50:19 AM , Rating: 2
The question that it comes down to is, are the billions of dollars to be made worth the sacrifices in freedom you have to agree to to do business somewhere?

So long as it's someone else's hide the answer is always yes if even $1 can be made. Unfortunately Yahoo's actions may be in contradiction to America's political agenda - Democracy. As such they could be seen as traitors by the powers that be.

RE: In reality
By MaulBall789 on 11/8/2007 10:30:33 AM , Rating: 2
Get over yourself. If the United States government "asked" Yahoo to fork over information on a "dissident" American citizen to potentially send said person to Gitmo for "stress testing", do you think they would have a choice? Did the telecoms have a choice? Absolutely not. They were told hand over the information or else.

RE: In reality
By Suomynona on 11/8/2007 11:48:01 AM , Rating: 2
AT&T should be condemned as well, although I don't know that there's evidence that they caused anyone to be put in jail for thought crimes. AT&T did have a choice to fight the NSA's requests, but they were also too spineless to do so. Neither of the two companies have any morals.

RE: In reality
By jskirwin on 11/8/2007 1:05:32 PM , Rating: 2
You guys are equating guys plotting terrorist attacks with a man calling for free elections, you realize that don't you?

When Ann Coulter or Noam Chomsky are imprisoned for their beliefs, I'll worry. In the meantime you guys need a reality check, geez...

RE: In reality
By MaulBall789 on 11/8/2007 5:47:27 PM , Rating: 2
That's essentially my whole point. China considers a man calling for free elections a terrorist. Who's to say that a less than honest US government wouldn't pick up a Joe or Jane Blow off the street just because of their too hard to the Left or Right political views. Yahoo, Google, etc. funnels all internet communications through the fed, phones all warrantlessly tapped and if you speak out too far in any one direction the feds come and get them, call them terrorists, and we never see them again. Who's to stop them? Hardly any evidence needs to be shown. How would this make us any better than China?

These laws (and I mean the Patriot Act and Warrantless Wiretapping) in the hands of honest and true people in positions of power certainly can be used to serve the greater good and catch the real terrorists. But we all know politicians on both sides that are not the most honest or trustworthy people, not to mention the people who influence (lobbyists) or work for them. They can use the laws to settle political grudges. That is what worries me.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen

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