Yahoo has just confessed that it gave away the information that led to the arrest, trial and conviction of jailed Chinese Journalist Shi Tao who has been in jail since last spring and he was sentenced to10 years imprisonment,
Jerry Yang, a co-founder and Senior Executive of Yahoo Inc revealed this at an international Internet Conference in Hangzhou, China yesterday, where the former President of the US, Bill Clinton was a Guest Speaker. But Clinton was apparently ignorant of this shocking disclosure.
Jerry Yang said Yahoo had no choice but to snitch on the Chinese journalist, because they were compelled to comply with the laws of the Chinese authorities since Yahoo was operating in China.
Three years ago, Yahoo was widely criticized for signing an agreement to abide by all Chinese censorship laws to restrict access to web sites censored by the repressive totalitarian Chinese authorities. Internet monitoring groups in the United States of America and Europe have also accused Google of compromising with the same Chinese authorities in preventing Internet users in China from accessing the sites authorities regard as sensitive, such as those carrying reports about Tibet, Taiwan and the banned religious sect Falun Gong. China bought most of the equipment to block access to restricted sites from Cisco. But Cisco Systems has stated that whatever China does with the equipment is not the business of the company
The case of Shi Tao has become very controversial and popular, because it was the reason why he was jailed in the Chinese government’s crackdown on their local media to monitor and check those reporting on sensitive topics regarded as challenging the powers of the state.
The 37 years old Shi Tao was reporting for Contemporary Business News, a newspaper in the southwestern province of Hunan. And he used a Yahoo e-mail account to send his vital information to the Chinese-language Web site based in New York. The report was a message from state censorship authorities. Shi Tao’s e-mail warned domestic journalists about the perils of reporting on the anniversary of the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, which ended in a massacre of hundreds of people.
Then, Yahoo snitched on Shi Tao. Giving the Chinese state security authorities details about Shi's e-mail usage that were ultimately used to trace the message to a computer he used at the newspaper.
The co-founder of Yahoo said they were not aware that the information was going to be used to arrest and jail Shi Tao.
The audience applauded Jerry Yang as he explained the role of Yahoo in such cases involving their own privacy and terms of service in relation to the due process of the legalities of the local laws of the lands where they operate their businesses. The participants at the conference were hundreds of Internet executives and investors who are mostly from the more educated and wealthy communities in China.
Observers have noted that Yahoo and many of the foreign technology powers that market themselves as forces for the free flow of information in other countries have often compromised with the repressive Chinese Communist Party government in their capitalist pursuit of business opportunities in a land of seemingly limitless potential. And will go all the way to increase their stakes in China where they will make huge profits.
Reporters Without Borders translated the report of the verdict on the case of Shi Tao.
Jerry Yang of Yahoo regretted that such information could have caused the conviction of Shi Tao.
Ironically the Internet conference was on the transformational power of the Internet. And in his keynote address, Bill Clinton commended the emerging Internet entrepreneurs in China as a progressive force for change in Chinese society. He cited the reports on Chinese Internet web sites that were very vital in compelling the Chinese government to admit and address the emergency of the deadly outbreaks of the SARvirus two years ago and contained the spread of the deadly virus.
The Chief Executive of Alibaba.com, Jack Ma said he only heard of the case of Shi Tao and the role Yahoo might have played in his imprisonment on the morning of the conference. And Alibaba.com sponsored the participation of Bill Clinton at the conference. Yahoo has just bought 40% of Alibaba.com, one of the leading Web-commerce companies in China.Jack Ma said Alibaba.com will follow the due process of Chinese laws and they were not engaged in partisan politics. Their priority is to be focused on their e-commerce.