Google Blogoscoped

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Yahoo Apologizes In Dissident Jail Case But Makes No Commitments

3 years ago, Yahoo received an “order” from the Chinese government to turn over information regarding an email that was sent from China to the US with information regarding the Chinese gov’t role censorship efforts. Yahoo decided the government overrules their users interests and complied with the order, which then made the gov’t send journalist & dissident Shi Tao to jail for 10 years for divulging state secrets (what Shi Tao did specifically was emailing a summary of a Communist Party directive overseas; the directive was originally sent to journalists warning them of possible unrest during the Tiananmen square crackdown anniversary, urging them to “not fuel it via media reports,” as Amnesty International explained).

Now, according to an Associated Press report, Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang in a US hearing – at which Shi Tao’s mother was present – on the issue said:

I deeply regret the consequences of what the Chinese government has done to the dissidents. My heart goes out to the families ... We have to do a whole lot better and improve in the future. I don’t think anyone was trying to do anything wrong.

AP reports that Jerry Yang, along with Yahoo’s General Counsel Michael Callahan (both pictured above), were later asked to directly apologize to Shi Tao’s mother, which they did by standing up and bowing to her. The mother then bowed in return and began to weep, AP says. The Yahoo officials later also spoke to the mother in person. During the hearing, in regards to future handling of such cases, Callahan on the other hand argued:

I cannot ask our local employees to resist lawful demands and put their own freedom at risk, even if, in my personal view, the local laws are overbroad.

There were no definite commitments made in regards to how Yahoo would now help Shi Tao and his family, or how they would react in the future should they receive such orders in China. Like Google, Yahoo at this time continues to work with the Chinese government to partly censor search results on such topics as human rights, or the Tiananmen square crackdown. Just like Google and others, Yahoo also doesn’t tell which kind of outstanding gov’t orders they still possess.

[Thanks Juha-Matti Laurio! Photo sources by Yahoo.]


Blog  |  Forum     more >> Archive | Feed | Google's blogs | About


This site unofficially covers Google™ and more with some rights reserved. Join our forum!