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Wife of Chinese Cyber Dissident Sues Yahoo
bill




msg:3276098
 5:23 am on Mar 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Wife of Chinese Cyber Dissident to Sue Yahoo [english.chosun.com]

The wife of a Chinese dissident jailed for publishing articles on the Internet says she plans to sue U.S.-based Internet company Yahoo for allegedly helping to put her husband in jail in China.

Speaking with VOA's Mandarin Service Wednesday after arriving in Washington, Yu Ling said Chinese police arrested her husband, Wang Xiaoning, partly because Yahoo's Hong Kong office gave Chinese authorities information about his e-mail accounts.

This will be an interesting case to watch if it does develop further.

 

Leggewie




msg:3279358
 2:02 pm on Mar 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

yes, I'd be interested to see how this develops. It is unfortunate to see all these companies from the west leave all decency behind when management gets the big $$$ signs in their eyes when they hear about 1 bln customers. Suits them right to be screwed over so many times afterwards ;-)

timster




msg:3279551
 5:07 pm on Mar 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Does anyone know on what grounds the suit is based?

I don't want to get too deep into politics here, but it would certainly present a conundrum if following lawful orders of the Chinese government starts getting companies into human rights troubles in their home countries.

If Yu Ling can get her day in court, it shouldn't be hard for her lawyers to find a sympathetic jury.

bill




msg:3280063
 12:32 am on Mar 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well, she's in the US and bringing her case there, so that will give her a bit more flexibility. However, as pointed out US law doesn't extend to HK and China. It will be interesting to see on what basis they go after Yahoo if the case is even allowed in the US courts.

Leggewie




msg:3280071
 12:41 am on Mar 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

I am speculating a bit here, but I would assume that this is based on Yahoo breaking its TOS, specifically the privacy policy [yahoo.com...] which only allows this sharing of information under specific circumstances which probably were not met.

[edited by: encyclo at 2:03 am (utc) on Mar. 13, 2007]
[edit reason] fixed link [/edit]

bill




msg:3280079
 12:55 am on Mar 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

I haven't picked through their privacy policy for the HK or China sites, but you're probably right there. It's probably not that much different from the one on the .com site which states:

Information Sharing and Disclosure

  • We respond to subpoenas, court orders, or legal process, or to establish or exercise our legal rights or defend against legal claims.

  • Leggewie




    msg:3280108
     1:17 am on Mar 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

    .. which is exactly the point I was speculating about. I don't think the Chinese needed to go as far as an official court order for Yahoo to give in.

    [edited by: Leggewie at 1:18 am (utc) on Mar. 13, 2007]

    bill




    msg:3282377
     2:42 am on Mar 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

    Yahoo Inc. cleared in Hong Kong case [chron.com]

    HONG KONG - Yahoo Inc. did not violate Hong Kong's privacy laws when it provided prosecutors with information about a Chinese reporter accused of leaking state secrets, authorities said Wednesday.

    ...

    Hong Kong's privacy commissioner said in a statement Wednesday that there was not enough evidence to support the view that Yahoo Hong Kong violated privacy laws.

    Just to clarify things here, this article mentions Hong Kong's investigation into a similar matter. This does not mention the case being brought in the US mentioned in the first post. The names of the accused are different.

    Leggewie




    msg:3282387
     3:07 am on Mar 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

    Thanks, bill, for the update.

    But this really does not say much about the case the wife is bringing to the US. Hers is (if my speculation is indeed correct) a question regarding private/contract law whereas the HK case was about state privacy laws. In her case you or your lawyer brings your case the court. In the HK case it was the state attorney acting on behalf of all citizens. Very different, but IANAL and I really do not know what I am talking about.

    bill




    msg:3282416
     4:34 am on Mar 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

    I'm not really sure this is even the same case. The Hong Kong case refers to the detained journalist as Shi Tao. The woman suing Yahoo in the US is named Yu Ling and her husband is Wang Xiaoning. I think we're reading about similar yet different cases.

    I don't know whether this would set any sort of precedent or whether it would even be considered by a US court.

    bill




    msg:3283322
     1:08 am on Mar 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

    I found a much longer and informative article on this case:
    'Yahoo Betrayed My Husband' [wired.com]

    "We are required to follow the laws of those countries and that's what we've done," says Jim Cullinan, a Yahoo spokesman. "Law enforcement agencies in China and elsewhere don't explain to us or telecom companies or anyone the reason why they're demanding specific information. We can't tell the difference between a legitimate national security issue and something else."

    The article mentions the other three writers who Yahoo provided information on: Shi Tao, Li Zhi and Jiang Lijun. So the article I linked to yesterday was definitely a different case.

    It was interesting to note in this article that legal experts in the US have doubts this case will go anywhere. It looks like an uphill battle for Ms. Yu.

    bill




    msg:3354232
     6:16 am on May 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

    Second Chinese dissident joins lawsuit against Yahoo [arstechnica.com]

    Another jailed Chinese pro-democracy activist has joined a legal battle against Yahoo, attempting to hold the company responsible for turning over e-mails to the Chinese government that eventually landed him in prison.

    Shi Tao, sentenced to a decade in prison back in 2004, was the first Chinese citizen known to be jailed because of e-mails turned over by Yahoo, according to Boing Boing. Now, Shi has joined the World Organization for Human Rights case against Yahoo, filed in April in a San Francisco court. The case was originally brought on behalf of of jailed dissident Wang Xiaoning (also imprisoned after a court got hold of his Yahoo e-mail). The WOHR is attempting to use both the Alien Toward Statute and the Torture Victim Protection Act to bring the case, even though the actions in question did not happen in the US.


    Olney




    msg:3358935
     10:11 am on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

    Aren't Yahoo! China & Yahoo! US two different companies?
    Sony US can't take responsibility for what Sony Japan does..
    She'd have to sue Yahoo! China... they're the ones that did it...

    bill




    msg:3359572
     12:37 am on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

    Yahoo China is controlled by the Alibaba Group. Yahoo doesn't have a controlling share in the China operation. However, the initial case was with the Yahoo Hong Kong office. I think these are separate operations entirely. Can anyone confirm this?

    bill




    msg:3435360
     11:43 am on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

    Yahoo asks federal court to dismiss human rights lawsuit [computerworld.com]

    In a 51-page defense filed yesterday, Yahoo asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California to dismiss the lawsuit, saying U.S. courts don't have jurisdiction over YHKL. In addition, Yahoo said that while it sympathized with the plaintiffs and their families and doesn't condone the suppression of their rights and liberties by their government, it had no control over laws passed by the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the ways in which those laws were enforced.

    "Neither Yahoo Inc. or YHKL therefore can be held liable for the independent acts of the PRC just because a former Yahoo subsidiary in China obeyed a lawful government request for the collection of evidence relevant to a pending investigation," Yahoo said in its lawsuit. When the lawsuit was filed, Yahoo was the sole owner of YHKL. Now, however, a Chinese company, Alibaba, holds a majority stake in YHKL.


    vincevincevince




    msg:3435395
     12:35 pm on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

    I wonder, in the light of the current Google/Brazil issue, where the data was stored in order for it to be retrieved and supplied. (Current Google case sees Google refusing to give data to Brazil due to the data being held in the US - requiring a US court order from Brazil).

    If YHKL had to get the data from Yahoo Inc. then it may well be that Yahoo Inc. did disclose the data from the US without due legal process. Of course, Yahoo Inc. can only be said to have disclosed the data to YHKL if they are separate entities.

    As a separate entity, if the data originated with Yahoo Inc., then it would seem that Yahoo Inc. does have a case to answer based upon that disclosure. Alternatively, as part of the same entity (hence no true disclosure between them) then the actions of YHKL then fall under the US courts directly.

    It would be interesting to know with whom the Privacy Policy was established when the user created his Yahoo account; whether it was with Yahoo Inc. or with YHKL. The former would suggest that Yahoo Inc. retain their responsibility for the data.

    Of course that is all conjecture. Personally I hope that the case does get heard and precedent established.

    callivert




    msg:3435432
     1:19 pm on Aug 29, 2007 (gmt 0)

    Personally I hope that the case does get heard and precedent established.

    Likewise.
    The police taking someone away in a gray van based on the contents of their Yahoo account: the very idea chills me to the bone.
    They may be legally in the clear (time will tell) but shrugging and saying "it's how things are done over there" just doesn't cut it.

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