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How Yahoo assist Government Censorship in China(1)

Posted by Author on August 14, 2006

Human Rights Watch, August 2006-

Yahoo! Inc.

“Our mission is to be the most essential global Internet service for consumers and businesses. How we pursue that mission is influenced by a set of core values – the standards that guide interactions with fellow Yahoos, the principles that direct how we service our customers, the ideals that drive what we do and how we do it… We are committed to winning with integrity. We know leadership is hard won and should never be taken for granted… We respect our customers above all else and never forget that they come to us by choice. We share a personal responsibility to maintain our customers’ loyalty and trust.”

—Yahoo! mission statement, reflecting on “Our Core Values”

Yahoo! was the first major U.S. Internet content company to enter the China market, rolling out a Chinese-language search engine and establishing a Beijing office in 1999.

“Self-discipline” signatory: In August 2002 Yahoo! became a signatory to the “Public Pledge on Self-discipline for the Chinese Internet Industry,” the “voluntary pledge” initiated by the Internet Society of China (see Section II, Part 2, above). Protesting the move at the time, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth argued that by collaborating with state censorship in this fashion, Yahoo! would “switch from being an information gateway to an information gatekeeper.” Responding to the outcry from human rights groups, who pointed out that Yahoo! was not required by Chinese law to sign the pledge, Yahoo! associate senior counsel Greg Wrenn countered that “the restrictions on content contained in the pledge impose no greater obligation than already exists in laws in China.” In an August 1, 2006 letter to Human Rights Watch, Yahoo! stated that, “The pledge involved all major Internet companies in China and was a reiteration of what was already the case – all Intenet companies in China are subject to Chinese law, including with respect to filtering and information disclosure” (see Appendix xx for full text of letter). This is technically accurate as Microsoft and Google were not operating in China at the time. However, unlike Yahoo!, neither company has signed the pledge since beginning operations in China. (to be cont’d…)

— From IV. How Multinational Internet Companies assist Government Censorship in China,
of “Race to the Bottom: Corporate Complicity in Chinese Internet Censorship,” by Human Rights Watch, August 2006

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Undermining freedom of expression in China, Amnesty

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