“Yahoo criticized China in a brief statement that didn’t specifically mention the case of jailed journalist Shi Tao, whose mother visited Hong Kong on Sunday. Shi was sentenced to 10 years in 2005 after sending an e-mail about Chinese media restrictions.
“The company has acknowledged sharing information about Shi with Chinese authorities.
“‘Yahoo is dismayed that citizens in China have been imprisoned for expressing their political views on the Internet,’ the company said in the statement faxed to The Associated Press, which asked Yahoo to comment on Shi’s lawsuit.
“The Internet company, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., also said it has told China that it condemns ‘punishment of any activity internationally recognized as free expression.’
“However, Yahoo added that companies operating in China must comply with Chinese law or risk having their employees face civil or criminal penalties.”
If you’re a reporter in China, and if you discuss the restrictions you live under using Yahoo mail, when the government comes to throw you in jail Yahoo will abet it, then “condemn” what a known authoritarian regime did with the information, and then try to paper over its compliance by saying “Well, if we don’t our employees could go to jail.”
Hey, Yahoo. Here’s an idea:
Quit doing business in China or, more realistically, follow the example of other companies and don’t offer services in China that put you in that position. Then your employees won’t face prison for doing the right thing.
Using any public Internet service is a gamble when it comes to your ongoing privacy. Between security failures, surreptitious government monitoring and overt legal requirements that could compromise your privacy, there’s no level of true long-term security. If you aren’t willing to go end-to-end with encryption and communicate only with trusted parties from a server you physically control, all you can do is pick the least objectionable public provider and hope it puts up a public and vigorous fight if the government ever comes calling for a key to the back door.
Why would anyone trust Yahoo to do that?
It hands over people who’ve stated plainly evident truths to a government that swallows them up in its prisons, tortures them, and does its best to ruin and break them.
How can anyone claim to hate Guantanamo Bay or the PATRIOT Act then turn around and let Yahoo off the hook for doing business with a government that has institutionalized even worse than those two examples?
Update: Evidently China also memory-holed flickr for hosting pictures of the Tiananmen massacre.
“We are currently investigating this issue and hope that it is only a temporary one,” says Yahoo.
Not likely. The Chinese government is in it for the long haul.