Outrage builds over Yahoo's actions in China
Outrage is building over Yahoo's actions in China, which involved revealing the identity of one of its customers who subsequently was sentenced to 10 years in prison by the Chinese government. Anger ranges from a home-grown boycott of Yahoo's services to calls for new legislation to deal with such situations that will only arise with greater frequency as internet giants deal with repressive regimes like China.
Yahoo in China: Rising tide of anger - International Herald Tribune
Yahoo in China: Rising tide of anger - Print Version - International Herald TribuneYahoo has suffered a good deal of opprobrium since it was revealed last month that, when government officials came calling, the company's Hong Kong division simply surrendered information on a Chinese citizen who had presumably sought refuge, anonymity and a bit of freedom in the bosom of a Yahoo e-mail address: email@example.com.
Shi Tao, the journalist using that address, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for sharing with foreigners a message that his newspaper had received from Chinese authorities, warning it not to overplay the 15th anniversary in June of the killing of pro-democracy demonstrators near Tiananmen Square.
Yahoo, meanwhile, gets to keep its piece of the gigantic China pie, insisting like most Western companies doing business there that it must abide by the laws of countries in which it operates.
"What if local law required Yahoo to cooperate in strictly separating the races?" asked Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, in a widely circulated essay for The Los Angeles Times. "Or the rounding up and extermination of a certain race? Or the stoning of homosexuals?"
Jim Etchison, an information technology management consultant from Pomona, California, created BooYahoo, at booyahoo.blogspot.com, a site dedicated to urging "freedom-loving citizens of the Internet" to stop using Yahoo services "as a result of their oppressive policies."
"I was a happy Yahoo user for about nine years and was so offended by the Shi Tao business that I boycotted them," Etchison said in an e-mail message. "What begins in China will end where I live."
But the most damning missive came just over a week ago, in the form of an open letter to Yahoo's founder, Jerry Yang, from Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese dissident in Beijing who is no stranger to censorship, prison and other indignities associated with the government's efforts to stifle speech and dissent.
"I must tell you that my indignation at and contempt for you and your company are not a bit less than my indignation at and contempt for the Communist regime," Liu wrote, according to a translated version of the letter appearing on the Web site of the China Information Center, at cicus.org, a news and research clearinghouse based in Fairfax, Virginia.
The site was created by the activist Harry Wu, who spent 19 years in Chinese labor camps before coming to the United States.
"Profit makes you dull in morality," Liu's lengthy and scathing message continued. "Did it ever occur to you that it is a shame for you to be considered a traitor to your customer Shi Tao?"