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A View from David Appell

Yahoo's True Colors

Like Microsoft before it, Yahoo has demonstrated that its desire to be a player in the Chinese Internet market trumps any ethical considerations. Yahoo provided information that helped Chinese authorities sentence Chinese journalist Shi Tao to 10 years in prison…

  • September 8, 2005

Like Microsoft before it, Yahoo has demonstrated that its desire to be a player in the Chinese Internet market trumps any ethical considerations. Yahoo provided information that helped Chinese authorities sentence Chinese journalist Shi Tao to 10 years in prison for, according to the New York Times, “sending to a Chinese-language Web site (Democracy Forum) based in New York an anonymous posting that authorities said contained state secrets. His posting summarized a communication from Communist Party authorities to media outlets around the country.” The “state secret?” The New York Times calls it “routine instructions on how officials must safeguard social stability during the 15th anniversary of the June 4, 1989, democracy movement.” For this a man loses 10 years of his life.

Yahoo says, “Just like any other global company, Yahoo must ensure that its local country sites must operate within the laws, regulations and customs of the country in which they are based.” But that fails to recognize that large companies have the opportunity and therefore the responsibility to enact positive change in places where they do business–especially companies that specialize in technologies as revolutionary as the Internet.

Reporters Without Borders doesn’t mince any words:

It is one thing to turn a blind eye to the Chinese government’s abuses and it is quite another thing to collaborate.

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