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2 thoughts on “Some Links Worth Checkin'…

  1. Lukas Biewald says:

    Why do we keep blaming Yahoo and Google for the Chinese government’s actions? These stories are extremely sad, and it’s natural to have an emotional response that sides with the victims, but it’s the Chinese government’s fault here, not Yahoo’s. Would we prefer that Yahoo put its own employees’ livelihoods in jeopardy by asking them to disobey an order from the Chinese government? What if the order came from the US government? I understand that the US government can demand similar records of Internet usage, search history, etc.

    It seems the only reasonable thing we can ask of Yahoo or Google is to stay out of a country like China altogether. There is no way we can ask local employees to break Chinese laws. Demanding that Yahoo or Google avoid this kind of situation by not keeping logs or by providing some services and not others is really asking for the impossible since there’s so many unpredictable ways that a government could make a Yahoo or Google complicit in actions that we consider unjust.

    But can we really ask Yahoo to stay out of China without the US government passing a law that explicitly forbids it? In general I would argue that it’s very dangerous to ask corporations to be socially responsible. I’m not sure how realistic this actually is in this situation, but people often claim that a company’s shareholders can sue their company for trying to be socially responsible and thereby not maximizing profits. Personally, I’m not sure that I actually want companies trying to be socially responsible, because I don’t think I would agree with a lot of the “socially responsible” things they might do, but this is a separate issue. I think we can all agree that our government bears at least the primary responsibility for forcing companies to behave responsibly.

    As a separate issue, I wonder how different Chinese and US privacy policies really are. Especially post PATRIOT Act, can’t the US government demand anyone’s internet history logs? I don’t want to pretend that I know this area well, but before we complain about Chinese privacy violations, we should make sure we complain about our own policies.

    So first and foremost blame the Chinese government, and if you really don’t want US companies operating in China then blame the US government. And if you still want to blame Yahoo I’m curious about what you really want it to do.

    (Disclaimer: I am a former engineer for Yahoo search.)

  2. Tom B says:

    YHOO should simply refuse to collaborate with the Chinese authorities. It’s not like China has the technological capability to write their own Yahoo or Google.

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