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Yahoo! accused of Providing Information to Chinese Government
In a case that sends a reporter to jail

 4:19 am on Sep 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

Interesting article that seems to be picking up steam.


A French media watchdog said Tuesday that information provided by Internet powerhouse Yahoo Inc. helped Chinese authorities convict and jail a writer who had penned an e-mail about press restrictions.



 4:39 am on Sep 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

"This probably would not have been possible without the cooperation of Yahoo," said Lucie Morillon, a Washington, D.C.-based spokeswoman for Reporters Without Borders.

So if the FBI asks for information it's understood that Yahoo is compelled to provide it under the laws of the United States. But if it's Chinese law Yahoo is not obligated to do the same?

I'm into free speech, but it seems like Yahoo is merely guilty of complying with the laws of China.


 8:51 am on Sep 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm into free speech, but it seems like Yahoo is merely guilty of complying with the laws of China.

Yahoo is an American company and "Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. is part of Yahoo's global network." which I take to mean it is owned by Yahoo America.

So you have both legal and moral considerations.

I can't speak for the legal but Yahoos moral position is obvious:

"Yahoo and its major rivals have been expanding their presence in China in hopes of reaching more of the country's population as the Internet becomes more ingrained in their daily lives. "


"Just last month, Yahoo paid $1 billion for a 40% stake in China's biggest online commerce firm, Alibaba.com. "

We American's like to hold ourselves up as morally superior over other nations.

But it seems we have no problem chasing profits at the expense of other countries people that do not enjoy the same rights we do.

I'm sure legally Yahoo was compelled to release the information under their agreement with China.

I'm wondering if any large corporations based in the US will ever take the path of 'Do no Evil' if it costs them a market.

Let's be honest here. Yahoo knew what rules they would be playing with when they entered the China market. They (along with many other big internet companies) chose profit over ethical considerations.

So I am not going to listen to the cries of 'but we were just following the local laws' when it comes to cases like this. They chose to abide by those rules so they can take the heat when those laws are ethically opposed to US laws.



 8:53 am on Sep 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

guilty of complying with the laws of China. - its hard to swallow but yes.


 1:46 pm on Sep 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hong Kong SAR, as far as I know have different laws to disclosure, and their privacy laws are much more stringent then mainland ROC.

If the e-mail was used on Y! US and not hk.Y!, would they have to disclose it to ROC?

If th hk.Y! mailbox was on US soil, would they have to disclose it to ROC?

Don't forget, Hong Kong SAR is not ROC.


 10:44 pm on Sep 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

From the article:
Just last month, Yahoo paid $1 billion for a 40% stake in China's biggest online commerce firm, Alibaba.com.

From ChinaDaily.com [chinadaily.com.cn]:
Alibaba.com, China's largest e-commerce website, announced here Thursday that it has signed an agreement with Yahoo Inc. to acquire Yahoo China.

Whether it was Yahoo Hong Kong or Yahoo China or Alibaba (with their exclusive right to use Yahoo's brand in China) that accommodated the Chinese law enforcement's request for the identity of that subscriber who was to be charged with violating China's laws (however immoral) is moot.

The government demands and the vendor supplies. That's the way it works here and the way it works there. If Yahoo had done otherwise they would have been kicked out of the country, just like that. They would have been shut down in this country for not complying with a court order.

Like most of you, it's disturbing to me that many of China's policies are so restrictive. If this were in America, some of those policies would be beaten down by our civil liberties groups in a hot second. Then again, I am also extremely disturbed by policies in Saudi Arabia, most of Africa ... and even our own U.S.A. (Gerrymandering, the Patriot Act, Guantanomo, Iraq, New Orleans ... etc.)

I don't feel better about Yahoo's compliance, but it's painfully easy to understand. Besides, Yahoo was probably unaware of why the government wanted the identity. It was most likely a request for information about an individual who had simply broken Chinese law ... not a detailed list of charges. It would be the same type of request, here.


 5:17 am on Sep 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

it's sucks but Y! had no choice. You want China's business, you have to abide by it's laws. Dell, HP, MSFT and even Google would've done the same. Principles or not, they can't risk being shut out of China's huge market.

Can't wait till Google China gets one of those requests: You must provide the IPs, date and time of every search for (chinese word for)"democracy" or "Falun Gong"--for the past 8 years. You know it's coming. Welcome to the 21st Century!


 3:11 pm on Sep 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

it's sucks but Y! had no choice - Yeah I know and understand their situ.

I deal with Chinese firms and believe me it goes against the grain, I find the repressive regime to be vile.

But Ive a mortgage to pay.......And id dance with the devil to ensure I didnt end up on the streets.


 6:36 pm on Sep 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

Search engines, email services, and portals should disclose their data retention policies. That way citizens could be informed about the risks. These policies will vary due to different laws in different countries, in which case the retention policies should be disclosed on a country-by-country basis.

All we know about data retention policies right now is practically nothing.

Google -- apparently keeps all data forever, and is proud of it

Yahoo -- unknown. I tried to ask them about retention of email deleted from the Trash folder, but they gave me the run-around

Microsoft -- unknown

The fact is, if you don't have the data, no government can get it from you. In the U.S. it is not illegal to not retain data. In Europe the situation appears to be in flux. I don't know about the laws in China.

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