Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Congressmen Blasts Yahoo Executives in Chinese Dissident Case

Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang and Yahoo's General Counsel, Michael Callahan, were harshly criticized today by Congressmen who accused Yahoo of deceiving Congress and of complicity with efforts by the government of China to suppress human rights.

Yahoo initially received an official demand (citing "illegal provision of state secrets") for information they had about a pro-democracy dissident named Shi Tao over to the Chinese government. Yahoo turned the information over to the government. Shi Tao was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Callahan defended Yahoo’s actions. "I cannot ask our local employees to resist lawful demands and put their own freedom at risk, even if, in my personal view, the local laws are overbroad," he said.

Congressman Tom Lantos said, "I do not believe that America's best and brightest companies should be playing integral roles in China's notorious and brutal political repression apparatus," he said.

He also said, "While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies.”

Rep. Chris Smith compared Yahoo's cooperation with the Chinese government to cooperating with Nazi Germany during World War II.

Members also criticized Callahan for not informing Congress of the demand when if occurred. Callahan has issued a statement saying that he learned about it after he testified in February 2006 testimony, and that he regretted not alerting the committee to it once he knew about it.

It is unclear what Yahoo’s policy is now with regard to turning customer information over to host governments.


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