Yahoo on trial

Thu Nov 8, 2007

In a congressional hearing held on Tuesday November 6 as part of a lawsuit against Yahoo, CEO Jerry Yang and vice-president Michael Callahan were chastised for their involvement in the arrest and imprisonment of a Chinese journalist. Yahoo is currently on trial for aiding and abetting in the torture of Chinese dissidents.

In 2005, Chinese journalist Shi Tao was convicted by his government for divulging “state secrets”. Shi Tao had forwarded an email from the Communist Party warning the media not to observe the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 2004. Yahoo provided information to the government which helped identify Shi Tao as a dissident. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

In 2006, Michael Callahan, Yahoo’s executive vice-president and general counsel told the congressional panel that he did not know why the Chinese government wanted Shi Tao. In the November 6 hearing, it was revealed that this testimony was false—Yahoo officials had in fact received a document outlining the nature of the investigation.

At the hearing, house foreign affairs committee chairman Tom Lantos delivered a statement where he said that “Yahoo claims that this is just one big misunderstanding. Let me be clear — this was no misunderstanding. This was inexcusably negligent behaviour at best and deliberately deceptive behaviour at worst.”

Either Yahoo has some major internal communication problems or they’re so desperate for a piece of the Chinese Internet market that they’re willing to jump into bed with an oppressive Communist government no matter what the cost. I really hope for their sake that it’s the former.



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