yahoologo.jpg At the expense of free speech, democracy and human rights, Yahoo has acted in very poor judgment on the case of Shi Tao, by providing Chinese investigators with his Yahoo email records. If this were a criminal investigation, then perhaps Yahoo would be right in providing the information. But for simply posting a message warning journalists that there could be trouble on Tiananmen Square because of government restrictions, I ask: Where is the crime in that? Shi Tao is sentenced to ten years in prison, Yahoo providing the evidence for his conviction.

That is a lame excuse… forced to co-operate. Have you no principles? Have you no integrity? Moral grounds should have been in your decision parameter here. Was it morally right to co-operate in the imprisonment of Shi Tao? I think not.

Collaborators were treated harshly after the War. No one will exactly shave your head for this and parade you naked in the streets, but you have lost the respect of at least one person here.

Yahoo sidesteps claim of complicity: Shi, who worked for Hunan-based Contemporary Business News, has insisted he is innocent, arguing that the government order was not a state secret. China, however, considers a wide variety of information, which would be public information in other countries, to be state secrets.

Yahoo, along with Google and Microsoft, have been accused of putting business ahead of integrity by succumbing to China’s pressure and censoring sensitive information on its Chinese search engines, websites and blogs.

Clinton Urged to Raise Shi Tao Case at China Internet Summit
Committee to Protect Journalists

Wired News | Yahoo Gives Up Reporter’s E-Mail: According to Reporters Without Borders, court papers show that Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) gave Chinese investigators information that helped them trace a personal Yahoo e-mail to Shi’s computer. It says Shi was convicted for sending notes on a government circular spelling out restrictions on the media in his e-mail.

The case is the latest instance in which a prominent high-tech company has faced accusations of cooperating with Chinese authorities to gain favor in a country that’s expected to become an Internet gold mine.

BBC | Yahoo helped jail China writer: Reporters Without Borders accused Yahoo of becoming a “police informant” in order to further its business ambitions.

According to a translation of his conviction, reproduced by Reporters Without Borders, he was found guilty of sending foreign-based websites the text of an internal Communist Party message.

Reporters Without Borders said the message warned journalists of the dangers of social unrest resulting from the return of dissidents on the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, in June 2004.

Earlier this month Yahoo paid $1bn (£556m) for a stake in China’s biggest e-commerce firm, Alibaba.com.

When used for ill purposes, I would agree to communications being monitored. But I’m sure spooks are doing this already:

EU Considering Communication Record Plan: EU plans to make telecommunications companies store details of calls and e-mail traffic for a year or more were criticised by the industry on Thursday.

The proposal is part of an EU plan to fight terrorism, and the UK had hoped it would become law by the end of 2005. Home Secretary Charles Clarke said it was a “tricky political question”.

Earlier in the day he had expressed confidence that the concerns harboured by some EU countries – about the cost and invasion of civil liberties – could be overcome by the end of the two-day meeting.

The idea is for telephone companies and internet providers to keep information on the sender, receiver, time, place and length of any communication. The rules would apply to a large range of equipment including land lines and mobile telephones, text messages, e-mails and internet protocols.

The Cost of Online Anonymity

update: (7 November 2007) US rebukes Yahoo over China case