Votes | Average: 0 out of 5 Votes | Average: 0 out of 5 Votes | Average: 0 out of 5 Votes | Average: 0 out of 5 Votes | Average: 0 out of 5 (Be the first to rate this article) Loading ... Loading ...

by Mike Zazaian November 1, 2006 - 1:46pm, 4 Comments

Yahoo Accused of Selling Out to China

UN members criticized American internet companies yesterday for leaking information about its users to stay in favor with the Chinese government.

In one instance Irish Senator Paschal Mooney accused Yahoo of disclosing the identity of a journalist to the Chinese government. The journalist was ultimately arrested for dissent against the Chinese government, bringing Yahoo some heat from civil rights group Amnesty International and other free speech organizations. Said Mooney:

Yahoo compromised on their corporate policy in China, and a journalist was subsequently arrested.

Microsoft senior policy counsel Fred Tipson defended Yahoo’s position, noting that the action was required under Chinese law.

The condition of doing business in a country is to abide by the law of that country, said Tipson. I don’t accept the accusation that we’re colluding, I think we are maximising the access to information for users.

And while Yahoo’s actions may have come under pressure from a country that censors internet use more than any in the world, the Chinese government refused to admit that any censorship took place there at all.

In China, we don’t have software blocking Internet sites, said one Chinese government official who spoke at the conference. Sometimes we have trouble accessing them. But that’s a different problem…We do not have restrictions at all.

Unfortunately for China the claim has no factual basis at all. China’s efforts to sensor the internet usage of its citizens are the most well-documented of their kind. A study conducted in 2002 by Harvard Law School found that at least 19,032 sites were banned by the Chinese government. An additional report conducted by researchers from American, British and Canadian universities concluded similar findings. From the study:

China’s Internet-filtering regime is the most sophisticated effort of its kind in the world. Compared to similar efforts in other states, China’s filtering regime is pervasive, sophisticated and effective.

It remains to be seen whether Yahoo’s decision to give up information to the Chinese government is the right choice. While Yahoo and Microsoft say that they’d be forced out of the country without cooperation, China’s failure to fully accommodate them despite their contributions indicate that changes need to be made in these corporate relationships. Or perhaps the fact that the decision has to be made at all indicates that American companies shouldn’t be in the country to begin with. Whatever the case, it’s comforting at least to know that Microsoft and others are cogniscent of the problem. Concluded Tipson

We have to have a point when we decide that things look so bad, that censorship, or persecution of bloggers, or monitoring of email has reached a point when it’s simply unacceptable to continue to do business there. We try to define those levels, and the trends are not good at the moment, and not just in China.

Via New Scientist
Read this cnet article