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Oops, They Did It Again: Yahoo Helped to Jail Dissident

By - February 08, 2006

Reporters Without Borders is claiming that Yahoo aided in the jailing of a Chinese dissident in 2003, the second such accusation for Yahoo (more on the first – a journalist – here). The organization is requesting that Yahoo disclose its dealings with the Chinese government. From the report:

Reporters Without Borders called on Yahoo to supply a list of all cyberdissidents it has provided data on, beginning with 81 people in China whose release the worldwide press freedom organization is currently campaigning for.

It said it had discovered that Yahoo customer and cyberdissident Li Zhi had been given his eight-year prison sentence in December 2003 based on electronic records provided by Yahoo. “How many more cases are we going to find ?” it asked.

“We were sure the case of Shi Tao, who was jailed for 10 years last April on the basis of Yahoo-supplied data, was not the only one. Now we know Yahoo works regularly and efficiently with the Chinese police.

“The firm says it simply responds to requests from the authorities for data without ever knowing what it will be used for. But this argument no longer holds water. Yahoo certainly knew it was helping to arrest political dissidents and journalists, not just ordinary criminals. The company must answer for what it is doing at the US congressional hearing set for February 15.”

BB coverage here.

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5 thoughts on “Oops, They Did It Again: Yahoo Helped to Jail Dissident

  1. SorenG says:

    My respect for Yahoo is waning quickly. If Google follows suit, what we (or at least I) thought of as a new kind of socially beneficial big business that put people ahead of profits may turn not to be the case. I really thought Google and Yahoo were capitalists out to do good, at least generally. Yet sadly, they seem to be acting like any giant company: which is whatever increases the stock value. Heartbreaking. Is this really worth bringing search to China? I wonder.

  2. andrew says:

    I e-mailed this into boingboing but what the hell here too.
    Yahoo in China is required to obey censorship laws (and it’s also primarily Chinese owned due to laws against foreign businesses). Yahoo Hong Kong is not subject to Chinese law and the actions yahoo hong kong took were not legal. Yahoo HK did not have to work with the Chinese police and was under no legal obligations aside from possible “trouble” in China to obey China’s request. Additionally much of the media in HK was upset when Yahoo HK gave into China’s request becuase it undermines their independence.

  3. NathanB says:

    Is sucking up to the Chinese government a good long term strategy? When Yahoo’s (and Google’s) search results are suspect and Yahoo helps send people to prison for thoughtcrime, it can’t be good for PR.

    As China becomes more and more free, any company that played footsie with the Chinese government will be more and more reviled by Chinese people (I hope anyway).

  4. bayram says:

    My respect for Yahoo is waning quickly. If Google follows suit, what we (or at least I) thought of as a new kind of socially beneficial big business that put people ahead of profits may turn not to be the case. I really thought Google and Yahoo were capitalists out to do good, at least generally. Yet sadly, they seem to be acting like any giant company: which is whatever increases the stock value. Heartbreaking. Is this really worth bringing search to China? I wonder.

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