Yahoo Execs Scolded in Case of Jailed Dissident
November 8, 2007 9:19 AM
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Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang speaks in front of the parents of a jailed journalist
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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11/8/2007 1:52:03 PM
It was voluntary in the sense that the Chinese government didn't send in troops, take over their datacenters, and extract the information themselves. The government there asked for information that Chinese laws required them to provide. Yahoo complied with local laws.
What Yahoo was lambasted for was their not deciding to themselves become martyrs for the cause of justice. Of course, this criticism was coming from people who weren't themselves the ones in China who would go to jail for refusing to do what the Chinese law required. Armchair martyrs. I don't think going to jail for human rights was in the job description when the employees signed on with Yahoo.
11/9/2007 10:48:58 PM
NSLs require the same "voluntary" release of info - not troops, just laws.
At least we are complaining about this happening somewhere else. Perhaps it might even draw attention to similar actions here. Don't criticize someone for pointing out a flaw, even if they are flawed themselves.
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