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Yahoo Sued for Giving User Information to China 114

Posted by Zonk
from the not-yodeling-at-the-moment dept.
taoman1 wrote with news of a CNN article about a suit brought against Yahoo! for alleged aiding in human rights violations. The World Organization for Human Rights USA has filed suit against the search company for (so the suit claims) assisting in torture by revealing information that led to the arrest of dissidents. "The lawsuit cites federal laws that govern torture and other violations of international law. Plaintiffs included jailed dissident Wang Xiaoning and his wife, Yu Ling, who was visiting San Francisco this week as part of the group's campaign. Sklar said he knew of three other cases, but the dissidents were reluctant to join the complaint for fear of harm to their families living in China. Among those three dissidents is journalist Shi Tao, who was sentenced in 2005 to 10 years in jail."
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Yahoo Sued for Giving User Information to China

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  • Just visiting? (Score:2, Interesting)

    Plaintiffs included jailed dissident Wang Xiaoning and his wife, Yu Ling, who was visiting San Francisco this week as part of the group's campaign.
    Something makes me think they're going to have a really shitty time when they get back to China.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Mockylock (1087585)
      Concubine anyone?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Mockylock (1087585)
        Before modding a post "off topic" (the parent to this), one may suggest looking up "CONCUBINE" somewhere to see that it is used in China to punish women in one way or another. Those who don't pay their taxes or have family issues MAY end up in a concubine. THIS is practice throughout the world, in Saudi and Turkey.. as well as other middle-eastern countries. How my comment is off topic as much as any above mine, is completely mind-blowing to me.
        • by iminplaya (723125)
          Moderator thought you said "Columbine"...probably
        • by Twisted64 (837490)

          Those who don't pay their taxes or have family issues MAY end up in a concubine.
          Even if the odds aren't good, this seems like a win-win situation to me with regard to taxes. Unless the concubine is a cannibal.
        • by uhlume (597871)
          Tell you what — since you're the one making this surprising and thusfar unsupported claim, why don't you share with us some of the supposed preponderence of evidence for this punitive practice in modern China?

          I'm prepared to believe a lot of things about China when it comes to human rights violations, but the fact that I've never heard anything about this practice, coupled with my failure to turn up any support for your claim on a quick Google search tends to make me think you're probably trolling.
          • If you really want to get into it, I'll enlighten you.

            A very close relative of mine spent 3 weeks in China on a "business" trip as a private guest of the president of China. To narrow it down, he works for a Large software company that starts with an M and ends with a T, has "icrosof" in the middle.

            Nonetheless, he was treated like a king and travelled among the sights of China, met the people, etc. One of the stops consisted of a hidden concubine which housed women that were in trouble in one way or an
            • by uhlume (597871)

              There is a concubine which acts as a type of mall that you walk through.

              Please, what the fuck are you talking about? Whatever it is, it's not a "concubine [reference.com]". You're using the word so utterly incorrectly that you have to be either making this up whole cloth, or garbling someone else's story. Either way, stop digging yourself deeper, and come clean with us.

              When you enter, there are windows on each side from front to back, that house women. These women were put in this for several reasons. From what was describ

              • I'm so truely sorry that personal experience of family members doesn't directly relate to the TRUTH that's exposed on the internet nowadays. I feel even more unfortunate that I REALLY have a lot of reason to make up lies to explain it to you.

                Now.. is it REALLY offending to you, do you think I really want to make this up, or do you honestly believe that things like this DON'T happen around the globe?
                If you think that a place like China who still tortures people, doesn't have the capability of having Harem
              • It can be used as Concubine as one person or concubinage as a system. Either way, if you say so.. it must not exist. In other words, it could be called a Harem/concubinage.

                Concubinage: a system where a man brings one or more women, in addition to his legal wife, into to his household to cohabit with him. It was practiced throughout Chinese history, particularly by the wealthy, primarily to ensure many children.
                Harem: a man's wives, concubines, and females servants. Chinese emperors maintained harems wi
          • I did a google search as well on the Concubine phrase as well, and it seemed to come up as a single woman being known as a concubine, but those who I know that have visited them called the entire establishment a concubine. I guess they can also be classified as a government regulated Herem.
    • by unity100 (970058)
      she wont probably go back.
    • by microbee (682094)
      Don't worry, they will by all means find support to stay in the USA due to "political oppression". Why do you think there is a lawsuit in the first place?
    • Yes, the Chinese campaigners will very probably get an unfriendly reception back home. China is doing its best to be warm and cuddly but on some things it simply will not change. But hang on a second. The reason we found out about Yahoo's cooperation with the Chinese authorities was that there was nothing in Chinese (HK) regulations to stop that information from being made known to the public. The big difference is that the US (and other western countries) have similar if not identical regulations and l
  • Yahoo could just respond to requests to provide names of people who use online forums for political dissent with a standard response like, "The culprit you are looking for is a Mr. Chin."
    • Nah, it's Simon Jester :D
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Shiny One (983480)

      In other news today, everybody with the family name Chin disappeared mysteriously today.

      Authorities were quoted as saying, "there never was a Chin family name."

      • by Wite_Noiz (887188)
        The Sun reports it as "China Chin-less" Ay thank you. I'll be here all week. Try the veal
  • Matter (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fireman sam (662213) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @05:59PM (#18804973) Homepage Journal
    So when will The World Organization for Human Rights USA bring suit against George W for allowing torture in the detention camps?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      They won't - it'll be The World Organization for Human Rights China that does that.
    • by QuantumG (50515)
      International law doesn't apply to the country with the biggest army.
      • Re:Matter (Score:2, Interesting)

        by plasmacutter (901737)
        which would be china right?

        (obligatory futurama)
        in the korean war china realized the US soldiers had a preset kill limit, so they threw wave after wave of their own men at them until they stopped.

        i forgot who it was who said it, but they were so buried in soldiers they weren't retreating, but "advancing in the other direction".
    • by wondercool (460316) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @06:24PM (#18805311) Homepage
      Very good point

      Check http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html [un.org]

      Where to begin??? Guantánamo Bay

      USA is in violation of (at least):
      Article 7.
                  All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
      Article 8.
                  Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
      Article 9.
                  No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
      Article 10.
                  Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

      • Dude nobody said US is completely clean. We never were 100% compliant with the constitution and other civil rights issues. Thats why I don't like it when we poke fun of other countries. It is a big propaganda cycle.
    • by Guppy06 (410832)
      We've already seen such cases dismissed by federal courts because the administration has cried "state secrets." While even a cursory glance at the groups website shows their displeasure with such measures, there's little that could be done in federal courts.
    • see its comments like this that hurt americas image. say bush really doesnt want torture but some minion of his decides on it anyway. you think people are gonna out the minion doin the work? no but you cant blame bush completely right? personally i believe in certain forms of torture. anything that doesnt break the skin or leave permanent mental scarring is a-ok in my book.
      • by Jaysyn (203771)
        Can you name any type of torture, if continued long enough, that wouldn't leave mental scars?

        I didn't think so...

  • by Tofystedeth (1076755) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @06:01PM (#18805011)
    in the Ars article they said Yahoo claims that it is simply following local law and that it has no choice but to comply with legal requests from the Chinese government if it wants to keep doing business in that country. If Yahoo had existed during WWII would they have ratted out Jews to Hitler? But I guess it's okay as long as they can turn a dime.
    • Wow.... my quoting skills are apparently ftl.
    • by dwater (72834)
      I was under the impression that some/many US companies supported the Nazi party prior and even during WWII.
    • by syousef (465911)
      Well some claim IBM supplied the Nazis with machines to keep track of the Jews.

      http://news.com.com/2009-1082-269157.html [com.com]
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jellie (949898)
      That's true, but Yahoo (their local branch, whatever it's called) is also based in Hong Kong. So they could challenge the request in Hong Kong courts. Or just tell China that they had no information.
    • by KillerCow (213458)

      If Yahoo had existed during WWII would they have ratted out Jews to Hitler?


      Godwined [wikipedia.org] on the 5th post. Good one.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Tofystedeth (1076755)
        Also from Wikipedia

        Godwin's Law does not apply to discussions directly addressing genocide, propaganda or other mainstays of the Nazi regime
        Do you suppose any of they've done to this guy, or to anyone else they consider "subversive" or "destabilizing" might fit under "mainstays of the Nazi regime"?
      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        I hate that "Godwin's Law" bullshit. It's basically an admonition against learning anything from the mistakes of the Nazi regime.
        • by swb (14022)
          What's ironic about it is that people advocating naughty behavior in the name of PC/left-wing causes are the ones most likely to use it; what I find amusing is that they invoke a rule prohibiting the Nazis to suppress discussion!
        • by Jaysyn (203771)
          You're dead on with that observation.
        • by syukton (256348)
          For the most part, any comparison to the Nazi regime is overkill. You have to form a police state and kill a lot of people for arbitrary reasons before the comparison really becomes valid.

          Godwin's Law isn't an admonition against learning anything from the mistakes of the Nazi regime; Godwin's Law is an admonition against exaggerating the seriousness of a situation. In the case of China, however, I think the comparison is more valid than it really would be in any other circumstance I've seen it used, so I (p
  • by Clever7Devil (985356) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @06:04PM (#18805049)
    Yahoo! needs to take a page from Google's "Do no evil"

    I vote for Yahoo!'s new company slogan to be, "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil."

    Seriously, what did they think the totalitarian Chinese government was going to do with this personal information? Create some targeted advertising?

    Dear political dissident:
                          Have you heard of our new state-run work-camps? Your advanced computer skills are needed by the government. If you reply within the next 24 hours we'll promote you from "Wikipedia Article Revision" to "Pornography Censorship".
          Love,
                China


    Inexcusable.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Do people really think that the Chinese would really go to any company (especially a foreign one) and ask, "We'd like you to help us track down a dissident so that we can suppress him or her."

      What they did was say something like, "We'd like to track down a suspected criminal." Yahoo (nor any other company, for that matter) doesn't have the option of replying, "Well, we'll give you the information if it's for a certain kind of crime, but not for the ones we don't agree with." They have to comply with the law
      • Re:Company Motto (Score:5, Informative)

        by Clever7Devil (985356) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @07:04PM (#18805907)
        Not quite.

        From http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?com mand=viewArticleBasic&taxonomyId=17&articleId=9017 182&intsrc=hm_topic/ [computerworld.com]:

        According to the lawsuit, the Chinese court specifically relied on evidence supplied by Yahoo to identify and convict Xiaoning. The judgment noted that Yahoo HK informed investigators that a mainland China-based e-mail account (bxoguh@yahoo.com.cn) was used to set up Xiaoning's "aaabbbccc" Yahoo Group, and that the e-mail address ahgq@yahoo.com.cn, which Xiaoning used to post e-mails to that Yahoo Group, was also a mainland China-based account maintained by Xiaoning. The Chinese court said Yahoo was instrumental in causing Xiaoning's arrest and criminal prosecution, according to the lawsuit.
        Looks like Yahoo knew exactly what he was doing and led the authorities to his doorstep. It doesn't matter what doublespeak was used in the request, Yahoo had the facts in front of them.

        As for Google, they have refused to give out personal information before. I am disappointed in their actions regarding censorship, but I don't see how you can compare it negatively to the torture and imprisonment of a citizen.
      • They just haven't been asked to yet.

        Not true.

        "After being threatened with fines from Brazil, Google has agreed to hand over personal information regarding criminal activities stored on Orkut's servers."

        Tuesday, September 05, 2006 [insideorkut.com]

  • Until the world lawyers figure the new laws out. So they would have been banned, sued, and possibly extridited and tried in China if they didn't comply and sued if they didn't?

    Well, not working directly for international clients anyway. My boss would have to deal with the headache then...

  • Finally, the prospect of a little justice. Yahoo CEO Terry Semel says he believes in improving the customer experience. I'm not sure ratting on your customers to a repressive, totalitarian regime is the experience they were looking for.

    BTW Jerry Wang (Director of Yahoo), thanks for those plans you stole from the Chinese Military. My buddy who works for the intelligence community said the spy masters were really impressed by your work. Jerry Wang I heard they are asking you to steal secret plans for the Chin
  • by ZorbaTHut (126196) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @07:58PM (#18806469) Homepage
    It's interesting how it's essentially impossible to do business without breaking laws now. If they hadn't given away this information, they would now be having the Chinese government talk about how Yahoo must hate freedom and doesn't respect the laws of their country.

    I know a lot of people must be thinking "well, the decision is obvious, they should have followed the American laws instead since ours are more free", but remember that Yahoo actually has workers in China. If Yahoo didn't conform to Chinese laws, they would undoubtedly be hit with some kind of penalties, likely trickling down to their employees. This is probably not an issue they thought of when they opened offices in China.

    Of course, Google has offices in China also. It'll be interesting to see what their solution is if the Chinese government gets sufficiently pissed off at them.
    • by CrAlt (3208)
      Google would do the same thing Yahoo did. They are a corporation. A corporation's #1 goal is to make money. If they didnt they would be failing their shareholders. I remember when communist used to be bad, but since you can make money dealing with communist china its now ok.
      • by Jaysyn (203771)
        Isn't "Do No Evil" somewhere in Google's corporate charter? If so, can't they technically get away with being ethical?
    • by Nasarius (593729) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @10:20PM (#18807651)
      Then Yahoo simply shouldn't be doing business in China. Yes, it's impossible to conduct ethical business in a country with a horrific human rights record [hrw.org]. I don't see why this should come as a surprise to anyone.

      This is probably not an issue they thought of when they opened offices in China.
      Very funny. Of course they know, they just don't give a shit. That's why they handed over this information. Anything for the sake of making money.
  • by WED Fan (911325)

    This should be an episode.

    O.K., children, Yahoo! is evil, mmmmKay?

  • OK, just want to get this clear...

    It's bad when American companies - like Yahoo! - abide by foreign laws and courts, releasing information as required by foreign governments.

    It's good when American companies - like Microsoft - are sued because they do not abide by foreign laws and courts, and do not release information as required by foreign governments.

    Just want to know what the heck the standard should be... I guess it depends upon who you are...

    Oh, and for those who will come back and say "But i

    • by Rocketship Underpant (804162) on Thursday April 19, 2007 @10:16PM (#18807621)
      "Just want to know what the heck the standard should be... I guess it depends upon who you are..."

      I can see why you're confused. You appear to be missing your moral compass.

      The issue transcends government laws. Imprisoning and torturing someone for having a different point of view is despicable no matter what the law on one piece of dirt says. Assisting and participating in that incarceration makes one equally culpable. The managers and executives of Yahoo! went along with this crap just so they could avoid some legal hassles and, I suppose, make extra time for that golf game on Saturday.

      That's why Yahoo sucks, and this lawsuit will hopefully succeed.

      • The issue transcends government laws. Imprisoning and torturing someone for having a different point of view is despicable no matter what the law on one piece of dirt says

        I agree... I hope everyone will exhibit the same moral indignation against the EU who right now is debating making Holocaust denial a crime. If someone wants to be an idiot and deny it happened, that says a lot about that person. But governments stifling free speech is even more idiotic...

        So condemn Microsoft for not providing infor

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hal_Porter (817932)
      I think the idea is to scare international companies with lawsuits to stop them rolling over to totalitarian governments. E.g. if you look at WWII, lots of companies complied with local laws when they used slave labour. But that didn't stop them getting sued a long time after the governments that made the laws got obliterated.

      So if you're an American company doing business in China now, you need to weigh up the benefits of complying with morally invalid laws made by a tiny ruling clique to screw the rest of
    • You mean that you're in China, reading an article on the internet that's critical of the Chinese government, and interacting with people outside of your internet-bubble? Americans, even, like myself?

      I hope the secret police aren't knocking your door down already.

      No one is going to be tortured by the EU, in Microsoft's case they're just trying to maintain competition in the marketplace. The Chinese gov't has much more "sinister" goals.

      There's no double standard here. Those two examples are very different

      • You mean that you're in China, reading an article on the internet that's critical of the Chinese government, and interacting with people outside of your internet-bubble? Americans, even, like myself?

        As far as I know slashdot isn't blocked in China. I've seen people claim to be posting from there before.

        And when I was in China, I was able to make a VPN connection back to my company's network in Europe. In fact I actually had this conversation

        Me: Shit, shit, shit. Can't get a dialup connection from my laptop
  • Don't be evil (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LingNoi (1066278)
    When the news came out that Google was going to censor their search data but inform people they were being censored everyone went nuts.

    Yahoo helps the Chinese government put people in prison for 10 years and no one says anything. The Yahoo employees had a choice they could have just said they didn't collect the data that the Chiense government needed. Instead they wasted their time digging out that data and handing it over to the government.

    Would Google do the same? The Thai government asked Google for info
  • am so damn pissed off with Yahoo and this would be last nail. I had my mail a/c with them for last 10 years but am now migrating to gmail for good. guess what.... there is no feedback button on yahoo anywhere. may be i wont be able tell them about their wrong doing. if anybosy knows the link....reply me.
  • It is of great concern that when you search online, your data can be handed over to authorities easily. This recent post http://haisojnetwork.com/autos/what-microsofts-msn -google-yahoo-and-aol-know-about-you/ [haisojnetwork.com] reveals that MSN, yahoo, Google and AOL are all doing the same thing. Beware!!!
  • The situation here is a lot more complex than what the media coverage suggests.

    First of all, torture is always wrong and should never be ignored. This is the case whether the perpetrator is China, Russia or USA. Torture is 100% wrong and can only be condemned. The ones who commit that kind of atrocities are hardly worthy of the label 'human'.

    Having said that, though, if you want to do business in a country, you have to follow the law of that country. The only other option is not to conduct business in a cou
    • by BobMcD (601576)
      You're right. That's what a lot of Americans really, truly believe. Selling your freedom for comfort makes you a slave. Sure we also do it on a daily basis - look no further than PATRIOT or the kids getting arrested recently for their not-so-free speech about the VT killings. (And no, I'm not including threats, but simple conversations between peers that lead to police action.) Even though we abide by SOME loss of freedom, we do have to draw the line somewhere.

      Being persecuted for your political/religi
    • by fuzz6y (240555)

      It's easy to have ideals ten miles high when they are never likely to be tested.

      So, what, it's better to not have ideals so that you never have to live up to them? People with noble ideals don't always abide by them. People without them never do.

      Is it really so hard to accept that people in another country can and will have another outlook?

      They're not suing China. They're suing Yahoo. Those aren't "people in another country." Even if it's valid to judge them only on the terms of their society, we are t

  • Pot calls kettle black. Story at 11. This kind of behaviour by the US/British/_____ gov't is acceptable, while China is the booger-man? Whatever.

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