Yahoo! sued over involvement in China human rights abuses

Richard did not write this post and may not agree with it.

Regardless of the outcome, I think it’s good that Yahoo is being taken directly to task over what it did.

Yahoo! sued over disclosure of Chinese citizens’ identities

The internet company Yahoo! has become embroiled in a legal battle with a human rights group over a decision to disclose the identity of Chinese citizens, leading to their arrests. Yahoo! is being sued by the World Organisation for Human Rights, based in Washington, on behalf of Wang Xiaoning and his wife, Yu Ling. He is serving a 10-year prison sentence for advocating democratic reform in articles circulated on the internet.

The group is also suing Yahoo! on behalf of Shi Tao, a journalist serving a 10-year sentence for sending an email summarising a Chinese government communiqu̩ on how reporters should handle the 15th anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on the pro-democracy movement. The suit alleges that these people Рand others yet to be identified Рwere tortured or subjected to inhumane treatment at the hands of the Chinese authorities because of information that Yahoo!, Yahoo! China or Alibaba.com, a Chinese company in which Yahoo! has a minority stake, had passed on to the government.

Regardless of whether or not Yahoo! “had” to comply with Chinese law, it decided to operate in China and not contest the technically unconstitutional laws that were supposedly being quoted by the authorities. If it willingly operates in a country like China and does things that it knows will lead to people being abused, it can’t avoid the repercussions.

No one has to sell their soul to the Devil.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 12 Comments

What if Yahoo helps to catch a murderer, or a rapist?

August 28, 2007 @ 10:48 pm | Comment

What if Yahoo helps to catch a murderer, or a rapist?

If it happens, maybe you could draw attention to it. But that isn’t what happened here – these people committed political “crimes” that hurt no one other than the CCP’s feelings.

Please don’t bring up red herrings like that.

August 28, 2007 @ 11:43 pm | Comment

I guess I’d have to agree with Yahoo’s response – US courts aren’t really the place for determining whether Chinese law is in accordance with China’s constitution.

But Yahoo deserves the PR hit for its actions and its bungled handling of the aftermath, and I guess that’s really the goal of this suit.

And is it illegal now to sell your soul to the Devil? What spendings bill did that get added into? Is my contract null and void now?

August 29, 2007 @ 11:14 am | Comment

I dont think they even hurt the CCPs feelings, I think even the CCP knows the dissidents are correct, they just dont care about reality and justice for people, they just want what they want, but behind closed doors they all know that the people who follow them are nupes

August 29, 2007 @ 11:48 am | Comment

And is it illegal now to sell your soul to the Devil? What spendings bill did that get added into? Is my contract null and void now?

I KNEW IT

August 29, 2007 @ 3:10 pm | Comment

zhwj

Well, selling your soul would get you in trouble with God – he thinks it’s illegal. :)

In all seriousness, of course one can do whatever they like. The point is that they have free choice and have to take responsibility for what they do, rather than pretend they didn’t have an option or some such rubbish.

August 29, 2007 @ 7:19 pm | Comment

@fatbrick:

After alot of bad press in the 60s-80s alot of laws were passed to keep US companies out of a nation’s politics due to corruption issues, so there may be standing for the US DOJ when a US company supports human rights abuses in other countries. There may also be a perjury issue because Yahoo says they provided the information after being asked by the PSB but now it seems Yahoo pre-emptively offered the information to curry favor with Beijing. Big difference.

Bad Yahoo.

August 30, 2007 @ 1:25 pm | Comment

I dont think they even hurt the CCPs feelings, I think even the CCP knows the dissidents are correct, they just dont care about reality and justice for people, they just want what they want, but behind closed doors they all know that the people who follow them are nupes

The evil regime, just wants what they want, you know, that stuff regimes want, and like, and value. Regimey kind of things.

Bad Yahoo.

True.

August 30, 2007 @ 10:58 pm | Comment

Yahoo will do what it wants to make a buck.

September 3, 2007 @ 1:12 am | Comment

The crime is with CCP not yahoo. What law school are you guys from? Yahoo could not have the foresight for abuses, granted for arrests. US constitution could protect this even if it tried.

September 4, 2007 @ 7:56 am | Comment

The crime is with CCP not yahoo. What law school are you guys from? Yahoo could not have the foresight for abuses, granted it could for the arrests. US constitution couldn’t protect this even if it tried.

September 4, 2007 @ 7:57 am | Comment

There are so many big companies funneling money into the partys accounts, and what does the party do? It persecutes people. Isnt that the same thing? So why come down on Yahoo and not some other concsienceless company?

September 4, 2007 @ 10:24 am | Comment

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