In Pursuit Of Chinese Market Share American Technology Firms Battle Their Conscience And Each Other

Christian Science Monitor: The role of the US Internet firm Yahoo in helping Chinese security officials to finger a journalist sentenced to 10 years for e-mailing “state secrets” is filtering into mainland China. The revelation reinforces a conviction among many Chinese “netizens” that there is no place security forces can’t find them.
Yet if netizen reaction in China is resignation, the story of Yahoo’s complicity in the arrest of Shi Tao, a journalist with the Contemporary Trade News in Hunan, brought a spontaneous uproar among Western human rights and business watchdogs.
They say the case of Mr. Shi, convicted for e-mailing comments made in a newspaper staff meeting to a democracy group in New York, and whose IP Internet address was given to Chinese officials by Yahoo – highlights both a deepening US corporate acceptance of illiberal Chinese laws and a little-noticed rise in the jailing of journalists in China over the past two years.
Yahoo Holdings Ltd. in Hong Kong worked with mainland Chinese police to find Shi, according to court documents. So far, Yahoo has refused to offer details beyond this statement released Thursday: “Yahoo must ensure that its local country sites must operate within the [local] laws, regulations, and customs.”
When queried whether Yahoo gave Shi’s address to police after a court request, or whether police simply phoned Yahoo offices on the mainland to get help, Hong Kong Yahoo marketing spokesperson Pauline Wong said she was “unable to give out any information like that.”
“For Yahoo to say it only must abide by ‘customs,’ well, that opens the floodgate,” says Nicolas Becquelin of Human Rights In China. “Anything can be called a custom.”
In the past year, Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have been in competition to attract China’s 95 million Internet users. They have been pressured to comply with local laws that restrict news and discussion. Google has agreed with authorities to censor its Chinese search engine, for example, as has Yahoo. Microsoft launched a Chinese blog service that forbits users from using certain words.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.