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How Yahoo assist Government Censorship in China(10)

Posted by Author on August 30, 2006


Chinese critics: After the case of Shi Tao was exposed by Reporters Sans Frontières and the Dui Hua Foundation, the Beijing-based dissident intellectual Liu Xiaobo wrote a long letter to Jerry Yang, in which he condemned such justifications as specious:

In my view, what Yahoo! has done is exchange power for money, i.e. to win business profit by engaging in political cooperation with China’s police. Regardless of the reason for this action, and regardless of what kinds of institutions are involved, once Yahoo! complies with the CCP to deprive human rights, what it does is no longer of a business nature, but of a political nature. It cannot be denied that China’s Internet control itself is part of its politics, and a despotic politics as well. Therefore, the “power for money” exchange that takes place between western companies like Yahoo! and the CCP not only damages the interests of customers like Shi Tao, but also damages the principles of equality and transparency, the rules that all enterprises should abide by when engaging in free trade. And it follows that if Yahoo! gains a bigger stake in the Chinese market by betraying the interests of its customers, the money it makes is “immoral money”, money made from the abuse of human rights. This is patently unfair to other foreign companies that do abide by business ethics.81 (The full text of Liu’s letter can be found in Appendix VII.)

After being censored by Microsoft’s MSN Spaces (details in following section on Microsoft), Chinese blogger Zhao Jing, a.k.a. Michael Anti, wrote that the Chinese people were probably still better off that Microsoft’s MSN and Google were engaged in China despite their compliance with Chinese censorship.82 However he had no such feelings for Yahoo!: “A company such as Yahoo! which gives up information is unforgivable. It would be for the good of the Chinese netizens if such a company could be shut down or get out of China forever.”83 He was even more blunt in an interview with the New York Times: “Yahoo is a sellout,” he said. “Chinese people hate Yahoo.”84 Such opinions are examples of the way in which Yahoo!’s behavior in China is viewed by Chinese intellectuals and opinion-leaders concerned with free speech issues.

While no comprehensive opinion survey of Chinese Internet user perceptions has been conducted to date, there is evidence that publicity about Yahoo!’s conduct in China has caused at least some Chinese Internet users to choose other email services. A question was recently posed in Chinese on a blog: “which do you trust more, email, Gmail or Hotmail?” A number of respondents cited privacy concerns with Yahoo!, and others expressed appreciation that Gmail enables the user to use browser-based encryption through the “https” protocol.85


– 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

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One Response to “How Yahoo assist Government Censorship in China(10)”

  1. Susan Tolbert said

    I am not at all shocked by Yahoo’s disregard for privacy or Free Speech. All one has to do is visit the site “Yahoo Answers” and post anything remotely against Fundamentalist Christianity, the U.S. Government, along with a number of other “taboo” topics, and they are “reported” by Yahoo employees, posing as posters. Not only that, but Yahoo is rumored to have reported ant-American posts to the NSA, Homeland Security and other government agencies! They’re worse than a sell out; they are fascists!

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