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Yahoo! Asks That Chinese Rights Suit Be Dismissed 248

Posted by Zonk
from the your-justice-online dept.
Eviliza writes that Yahoo! is asking that the suit filed against it over the infringement of a Chinese journalist's civil rights be dismissed in US courts this week. The company has stated that it had no choice but to give up the journalist's information, as it's Chinese subsidiary is subject to Chinese laws. "'Defendants cannot be expected, let alone ordered to violate another nation's laws,' the company said in its filing. But Morton Sklar of the World Organization for Human Rights said the company had failed to meet its ethical responsibilities. 'Even if it was lawful in China, that does not take away from Yahoo's obligation to follow not just Chinese law, but US law and international legal standards as well, when they do business abroad,' he said."
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Yahoo! Asks That Chinese Rights Suit Be Dismissed

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  • Yahoo! is correct (Score:2, Informative)

    by geoffrobinson (109879)
    If you set the legal precendent that you can sue in one country about something you were forced to do according to the laws of another country, chaos would ensue.

    I'm not thrilled that Yahoo! did what they did. Primarily because I don't like putting exclamation points in the middle of my sentences, but I believe they are correct according to the law.
    • by Daimanta (1140543) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:22PM (#20385543) Journal
      In my country it is forbidden to use exclamation marks in the middle of a sentence. You will be arrested and prosecuted. Anything you type can and will be used against you. Resistance is futile.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      China signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That is enough to justify suing an international company for violating human rights in my opinion.

      There has to be some limit to what an international company can do in violation of human rights. Would supplying genocide chemicals be too far even if it is not in violation of a nation's laws (obviously)? What is the limit? Do international agreements mean nothing?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Daimanta (1140543)

        Do international agreements mean nothing?
        If a nation has sufficient power, he can pretty much all international law. *cough US and China cough*
        • by Ajehals (947354)

          If a nation has sufficient power, he can pretty much all international law.
          Write?
          Ignore?
          Enforce?
          Obey?
          Invalidate?
          Disagree With?
          Agree With?

          (All of the above I would say, selectively.)

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by m2943 (1140797)
        Would supplying genocide chemicals be too far even if it is not in violation of a nation's laws (obviously)?

        There is no such thing as "genocide chemicals"; chemicals that have been used for genocide have many legitimate uses. So, the real question you have to ask is: can you hold a company responsible for doing business with a regime engages in genocide. And I think that has a clear answer: you can if, and only if, the government where the company is operating has restricted business with that regime.

        Do i
    • Yet what kind of global economy are we creating when by doing business with countries like this, we are allowing possibly overpaid jobs in a possibly overpriced free country (relatively speaking), go to a cheap location with an unsuitable government?

      Isn't this just highlighting the fact that we should not be doing business with our enemies? Isn't letting them hide behind the laws of an oppressive nation creating a global economy at the expense of freedoms the western world fought long and hard for?

      China is
      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:44PM (#20385979) Journal
        I think you'd better reconsider your analogy. It is the West that is addicted to the crack here, and is willing to sell out on every principal that it once fought so hard to preserve for cheap toothpaste, cheap toys and cheap dog food.
        • by Sunburnt (890890) * on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:49PM (#20386081)

          It is the West that is addicted to the crack here, and is willing to sell out on every principal that it once fought so hard to preserve for cheap toothpaste, cheap toys and cheap dog food.

          Exactly. I see this variety of doublethink at farmers' markets up here. Many people in this moneyed college town, who will fulminate endlessly about the need for agriculture companies to stop polluting and start paying their workers a living wage, are somehow offended that a local organic farmer is charging $4/lb for tomatoes. "But I can get tomatoes at the store for less than half that!"

          Lots of folks preach a good sermon, but aren't willing to make the sacrifices to put their words into action.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by MightyMartian (840721)
            The real irony is now this out-of-control economic "success" in China is spawning a corrupt attitude that you can package any shit you like in a box, stamp "Barbie" on it and send it off to eager kiddies in far off lands. The West is getting its just desserts for doing business with a nation which has completely removed the notion of the rule of law over the last century. China is about profits, about getting influence through the Party and military hieararchies, about local officials skimming off the top
            • by Sunburnt (890890) * on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @01:10PM (#20386421)

              The United States is about profits, about getting influence through lobbyists and financial manipulation, about local officials skimming off the top just like these [wikipedia.org] thieves, [wikipedia.org] and about a pack of fearful, demented businessmen who want to divert the American populace from their incompetence and hypocrisy by giving them iPhones, MySpace, and a War on Pretty Much Everything.
              The names and ideologies change, but it's the same game pretty much everywhere.
              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by MightyMartian (840721)
                That was the classic defense used by the Soviets and Chinese for decades. "The decadent capitalistic West has no right to talk because they have street crime, drug addicts and corrupt politicians." It wasn't very compelling in 1980, and it isn't any better a defense of cowardly tyrants today.
                • by Sunburnt (890890) *

                  That was the classic defense used by the Soviets and Chinese for decades. "The decadent capitalistic West has no right to talk because they have street crime, drug addicts and corrupt politicians." It wasn't very compelling in 1980, and it isn't any better a defense of cowardly tyrants today.

                  Not defending anybody, just pointing out that it's unrealistic to expect the rulers over here to do anything meaningful about the problems in China. I certainly don't endorse the immorality of either side.

                  Soap, ballot

                  • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                    by MightyMartian (840721)
                    Look, the whole argument put forward to bring China into the "fold" was that the only way we could hope to influence their system was through trade, that trade would give the Chinese a taste of what freedom can provide. It was a bogus argument. What trade has done has permitted China to build an incredible trade surplus and to basically hold Western economies hostage, all the while happily doing business with American companies, using Western technology to make sure that this great capitalist revolution d
                    • by Sunburnt (890890) *

                      Cisco ought not to be permitted to export equipment to do that. It grew up in a democratic climate, and it *owes* us that. Microsoft, Yahoo and Google should not be permitted to open their logs to Chinese officials hunting for dissidents. These companies grew up in a democratic and free part of the world, and they *owe* us that.

                      I hope you didn't get the impression that I disagree.

                    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                      by NeutronCowboy (896098)

                      What we do know is that the technocrats and military officers at the top of the Chinese political system have no problem torturing dissidents and turning the tanks on their own people.

                      You know what's really scary? The amount of Chinese living in China and abroad that supported and still support this action. And I'm not talking about the Chinese equivalent of a redneck - I'm talking about smart, educated people who just happen to think that western-style democracy will destroy China.

                      They are killers with no

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by OrangeTide (124937)
                The solution to the Chinese problem is not to ignore our own faults and problems. So your point is moot.

                There is absolutely nothing preventing us from solving both problems, because they are totally independent of one another.

                Likely the solutions are the same though, the people in America need to rise up and take back their government. And no I am not one of those people with an overly idealized view of America that has no historical basis. I realize that profit and business is an integral part to American
                • by Sunburnt (890890) *

                  The solution to the Chinese problem is not to ignore our own faults and problems. So your point is moot.
                  Sorry, but you're reading too far into my point. I'm not claiming that inaction on the part of our government is correct, or the solution. I'm claiming that it's the likely outcome of this whole debacle, due to the motivations of our "leaders." We're not actually disagreeing, judging by your post.
            • by 1u3hr (530656)
              The real irony is now this out-of-control economic "success" in China is spawning a corrupt attitude that you can package any shit you like in a box, stamp "Barbie" on it and send it off to eager kiddies in far off lands.

              The only company that is selling anything in Barbie boxes is Mattel. Mattel pays Chinese factories to make them. It's Mattel's responsibility to set quality standards. China doesn't send products to the US and drop them by parachute. They're ordered, imported and sold by American compan

          • by Applekid (993327)
            Well, hold it one second, agribusiness is huge. Top executives in that industry, like others, are making several thousand more in salary than their workers. Tomatoes don't have to cost $4/lb even with paying fair wages and being environmentally conscious.

            People in the western world don't go "Oh, made in China... GOODIE!" It's the companies and the people in charge of them that see China as a cheap place to maximize their profits that wind up causing these problems.
            • by Sunburnt (890890) *

              Well, hold it one second, agribusiness is huge. Top executives in that industry, like others, are making several thousand more in salary than their workers. Tomatoes don't have to cost $4/lb even with paying fair wages and being environmentally conscious.

              They do indeed, if you buy locally in an area with a high cost of living. The agribusiness model is predicated on quite a few things (monocropping, for example) that don't make sense on a local level (where people have a vested interest in the quality of t

    • by Sunburnt (890890) * on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:44PM (#20385985)

      I believe they are correct according to the law.

      Really? Last I checked, it was still illegal for Americans to violate human rights, even while overseas. Also, hasn't the "compelled to by the government" defense been pretty thoroughly rejected [wikipedia.org] already?

      Of course, this may have changed during the last seven years, just like the government's understanding of habeas corpus and the Fourth Amendment, so perhaps you're right.

      • Ah, you see, but that's where the handy notions of the subsidiary and of brand licensing come into play. It's not really Yahoo, Microsoft and Google giving up people to be imprisoned and tortured, and its not really Cisco building the Great Firewall of China to keep the Chinese people oppressed, it's some Chinese outfits licensing their company names doing it.

        All perfectly legal, and completely corrupt and immoral.
        • by Sunburnt (890890) *

          Ah, you see, but that's where the handy notions of the subsidiary and of brand licensing come into play[...]All perfectly legal, and completely corrupt and immoral.

          My bad. I keep forgetting who writes the law [wikipedia.org] in this country.

    • If you set the legal precendent that you can sue in one country about something you were forced to do according to the laws of another country, chaos would ensue.

      I disagree - what would actually happen is there would be a larger legal separation between similar corporate entities doing business in multiple markets. In other words, Yahoo! China would offer similar services to Yahoo! US, but they would not be the same. So if Yahoo! China was ordered to give up user information in China, it would comply under Chinese law. However, if that user information was on, say, a Yahoo! US controlled system, Yahoo! China would not be able to comply, since it didn't have the

  • by gbulmash (688770) * <semi_famousNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:17PM (#20385447) Homepage Journal
    I actually feel bad for Yahoo in a way. They're in a bit of a "damned if you do, damned if you don't." Had they refused the Chinese government's request, their Chinese operations could have been shut down by the government. They might have even seen their employees arrested or harrassed by the government for failing to play ball.

    So they play ball, and they get sued in the U.S.

    Makes me think a bit of the situation in Cuba. Lots of U.S. firms would like to do business there, have it opened up to trade, see relations normalized. I mean we've normalized relations with Vietnam even though POW/MIA groups feel the country still hasn't been as forthcoming as it could be on the subject of missing servicemen from the war. But POW/MIA groups can't swing Florida in a presidential election, so every president has given in to a small special interest group, and kept a hard line on Cuba.

    So, while American companies are denied access to Cuba as a market, a source for materials, and a source for goods, those benefits go to companies in countries where a small block of Cuban immigrants don't hold the disproportionate political sway they do here.

    The same can be said about China. If we let human rights activists use lawsuits to penalize companies for following Chinese rules while doing business in China, it just opens the door for companies from countries where human rights aren't as important and suing isn't as easy.

    • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:22PM (#20385551) Homepage Journal

      Makes me think a bit of the situation in Cuba. Lots of U.S. firms would like to do business there, have it opened up to trade, see relations normalized. I mean we've normalized relations with Vietnam even though POW/MIA groups feel the country still hasn't been as forthcoming as it could be on the subject of missing servicemen from the war. But POW/MIA groups can't swing Florida in a presidential election, so every president has given in to a small special interest group, and kept a hard line on Cuba.

      So, while American companies are denied access to Cuba as a market, a source for materials, and a source for goods, those benefits go to companies in countries where a small block of Cuban immigrants don't hold the disproportionate political sway they do here.

      When I was in Cuba a few years ago, there were plenty of American corporate offices, all in one heavily guarded (by Cuban military/police) compound in one of the best locations in Havana, right in the center of the city. There were probably other locations, too, and certainly enough business operations to support their offices.

      The Cuban "embargo" is nearly entirely a fraud, except the part that keeps individual Cubans cut off from the rest of the world, and (most) individual Americans cut off from Cuba. It's proven to do nothing to force political change there, and to promote political corruption here in the US (and in Cuba, and elsewhere in cooperation). It's one of the greatest political crimes in American history. And it's going on right now, and will continue tomorrow. Along with the propaganda that it is really an embargo.
    • by nevali (942731) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:50PM (#20386101) Homepage
      I actually feel bad for Yahoo in a way.

      So do I, until I remember that they're in China through choice.

      All of these western companies set up shop in China and then say "well, we have to abide by local laws" when somebody complains about them colluding with the Chinese authorities. There's an easy solution: don't set up shop in China. You won't win anyway.

      If all of the western corporations steered well clear of China (and other questionable regimes), and indeed Chinese companies, it would send a far stronger message than anything any human rights organisation would do, and shed an extremely favourable light upon the western corporations. Call it a voluntary trade sanction if you will.

      As it stands, human rights laws are flouted the world over because corporations and governments get away with it. If everybody stopped doing business with the companies and regimes responsible, the world would be a slightly nicer place.

      Nothing says "fuck you and your oppressive dictatorial policies" than the rest of the world refusing to take part in your GDP growth exercise: China's capital reserves wouldn't last forever, after all.
      • by gbulmash (688770) *
        "So do I, until I remember that they're in China through choice."

        Yes, but that choice is necessitated by the size and potential power of that market and the economic disadvantage of ignoring it due to moral concerns. It's like saying that a guy with a second job at Hostess should have quit as soon as he realized that Twinkies were contributing to the childhood obesity epidemic here in America.

        Can you guarantee that if he quits the Hostess job, he'll find something better or equal before the loss of i
    • by mordors9 (665662)
      That is why a company needs to thoroughly evaluate the legal and moral climate of a country before it moves to do business there. If they decide to go to a country that has a completely different values system then there could be problems that have to be assessed. That China would require Yahoo to inform on internal dissidents can't really be a surprise. As the old saying goes, if you're going to lie down with dogs, you're going to get up with fleas. If China orders them to assist in going around and roundi
  • As much as I beleive in human rights for everyone it simply isn't possible for a company to comply with 2 sets of conflicting laws in 2 different juristictions. Perhaps Morton Sklar can explain how Yahoo could follow Chinese law and US law at the same time if the two are mutually exclusive, rather than simply spouting rhetoric.
    • by Sunburnt (890890) *
      Maybe they can't. Shit, I guess that means that companies benefitting from an American base of operations shouldn't do business with repressive regimes through their subsidiaries.
      • by timeOday (582209)
        No kidding! Yahoo is quite clever to frame this as a "we have no choice" situation... look how many here are falling for it.

        Just because somebody offers to pay you for something doesn't mean you have to do it.

        To say that US law cannot control what Yahoo does in China is silly. If this were considered a matter of national security (a US subsidiary selling weapons information to China) I have no doubt the US govt would find a way to step in.

    • Yahoo could also have chosen to act ethically, despite local laws, rather they chose to act economically. Now, Yahoo is hoping to avoid consequences for an unethical decision. Yahoo is at can choose to violate human rights if they are willing to suffer consequences for such violations. It's ideal however, that a US based company which does not respect individual(_any_ individual) liberty according to the liberties provided by the US legislative body, would itself suffer consequences. I believe it is reas
  • I think not. (Score:3, Informative)

    by apodyopsis (1048476) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:19PM (#20385489)
    they did not know what he was being investigated for?

    I think not.

    Beijing State Security Bureau
    Notice of Evidence Collection
    [2004] BJ State Sec. Ev. Coll. No. 02
    Beijing Representative Office, Yahoo! (HK) Holdings Ltd.:
    According to investigation, your office is in possession of the following items relating to a case of suspecting illegal provision of state secrets to foreign entities that is currently under investigation by our bureau. In accordance with Article 45 of the Criminal Procedure Law of the PRC, [these items] may be collected.

    The items for collection are:
    Email account registration information for huoyan1989@yahoo.com.cn, all login times, corresponding IP addresses, and relevant email content from February 22, 2004 to present.
    Beijing State Security Bureau (seal)
    April 22, 2004

    see:
    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070730-chin ese-dissident-e-mails-what-did-yahoo-know-and-when -did-it-know-it.html [arstechnica.com]
    http://www.duihua.org/press/news/070725_ShiTao.pdf [duihua.org]

    And even if it is local law, that does not make it the right thing to do. Even then they should of been more upfront to congress when asked about it. Shi Tao will be in jail until 2014 and thats no laughing matter.
    • Sweet!

      Since I know that terror suspects will probably get sent to Gitmo, I can safely simply ignore any of these pesky National Security Letters I get since I know they violate human rights, because they don't get approved by a judge, and may well result in illegal incarceration right?
      • by Sunburnt (890890) *

        Since I know that terror suspects will probably get sent to Gitmo, I can safely simply ignore any of these pesky National Security Letters I get since I know they violate human rights, because they don't get approved by a judge, and may well result in illegal incarceration right?

        You can't ignore them, but you can sue the government for attempting to illegally force you to break your Terms of Service.

        Of course, given the current political climate, you'll probably lose.

        Soap, ballot, jury, ammo.

    • Yikes, either a free-marketeer who resents the suggestion of any government restrictions on profit (even if those pesky human rights get in the way) or a True Believer from the mainland modded ya troll! Hard to see what else could motivate such a mod. I
  • What are international legal standards? And are they standard between the US and China?

    Either we allow a US business to operate in China -- and follow their laws -- or we don't. If it's too damaging to human rights to allow a search business to operate in China, we can forbid it.
    • What are international legal standards? And are they standard between the US and China?

      Yeah, while I'm very much against censorship, I'm not sure exactly how these activists expect a US court to apply nebulous 'international legal standards' to this situation. There are a few problems with that: 1) apparently since China doesn't accede to it, these standards aren't exactly standard. 2) what US law was broken - in US jurisdiction - exactly? 3) When did international opinion become codified in US law?

      • by Dan Ost (415913)
        Doesn't a US citizen have to follow US laws while abroad?

        If so, shouldn't a US corporation be held to the same standard?
        • Doesn't a US citizen have to follow US laws while abroad?

          Generally not, I think - certainly the US wouldn't have jurisdiction for most such issues. They couldn't bust you for smoking weed in Amsterdam, etc. Even then, I can't a link to the case which specifies exactly what law is being allegedly broken, other than some ambiguous 'international standard' stuff. This seems like it boils down to "we don't like you, and we want attention, so we're suing you".

          If so, shouldn't a US corporation be held to t

  • Why most Americans think that US law trumps other countries laws even inside those countries?

    How would Americans feel if some Chinese company doing buisness in the US claimed chinese law should be upheld in the US?
    • In Islamic countries like say...Libya, it's not uncommon to punish (and execute) people who have broken their own laws abroad. In China, this is also true. Australia will punish (ban) people from entering based on activities outside of their country. There's NOTHING special about this case and Yahoo should be punished. It's the price of doing business in the USA.
      • In Islamic countries like say...Libya, it's not uncommon to punish (and execute) people who have broken their own laws abroad. In China, this is also true. Australia will punish (ban) people from entering based on activities outside of their country.
        Canadians will be tried in a court of law if they engage in sexual exploitation of children abroad.
        • Those examples are cases where one goes to another country and does something that is not expressly prohibited by local laws. In Yahoo's case, they simply were avoiding breaking the foreign law. Different situations. Even so, I would say it is still wrong to prosecute someone for breaking a US law while abroad. Just because Canada does it doesn't make it right. ;)
          • Those examples are cases where one goes to another country and does something that is not expressly prohibited by local laws. In Yahoo's case, they simply were avoiding breaking the foreign law. Different situations.

            Even so, I would say it is still wrong to prosecute someone for breaking a US law while abroad. Just because Canada does it doesn't make it right. ;)

            TOTALLY different situations, I was just jumping in the GP's list.
            BUT, it's not for breaking a Canadian law abroad, it's a special "think of the children" law, which is an exception. AFAIK, since IANAL and all that jazz.

            Also, I'm pretty sure the child exploitation is illegal abroad in most cases, just not prosecuted. So they closed the loophole by making a local law that make it a crime to break these kinds of laws in other country. I think it's an interesting approach to international legal issues.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by catbutt (469582)
      It doesn't trump the law there. Both laws can apply, which means that a company doing business in both countries might find itself unable to comply with applicable laws.

      If they don't like being in that position, they don't have to do business in both countries.
    • by Sunburnt (890890) * on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:40PM (#20385903)

      How would Americans feel if some Chinese company doing buisness in the US claimed chinese law should be upheld in the US?

      I don't see the relevance. Perhaps you meant, "How would Chinese feel if some Chinese company doing business in the U.S. claimed that Chinese law should not be upheld in the U.S.?"

      Since the PRC government is more than willing to prosecute Chinese nationals for violations of Chinese law in parts of the world where the PRC does not have jurisdiction, this is still a bad comparison to make, especially since the U.S. will do the same thing in certain instances. [wikipedia.org]

      The question is: if the U.S. government is willing to prosecute some violations of U.S. law overseas, why not others?

      And the answer is simple: Yahoo (and fuck you, marketdroids, I'm not using your infantile punctuation) has a better lobbyist presence than child molesters.

      • by quantaman (517394)

        How would Americans feel if some Chinese company doing buisness in the US claimed chinese law should be upheld in the US?

        I don't see the relevance. Perhaps you meant, "How would Chinese feel if some Chinese company doing business in the U.S. claimed that Chinese law should not be upheld in the U.S.?"

        Since the PRC government is more than willing to prosecute Chinese nationals for violations of Chinese law in parts of the world where the PRC does not have jurisdiction, this is still a bad comparison to make, especially since the U.S. will do the same thing in certain instances. [wikipedia.org]

        The question is: if the U.S. government is willing to prosecute some violations of U.S. law overseas, why not others?

        And the answer is simple: Yahoo (and fuck you, marketdroids, I'm not using your infantile punctuation) has a better lobbyist presence than child molesters.

        Actually there is a basic difference. Consider Country A to be the country in which the acts are being committed, and Country B to be the country who wants to charge it's nationals for breaking its laws in Country A.

        With the situation of child molesters we are dealing with an act that if it isn't illegal in Country A, is at least not something you are legally required to do. Thus while the laws of Country B add additional restrictions to the laws of Country A for citizens of B who are in A, they do not act

        • by Sunburnt (890890) *

          There is a fundamental difference, the first situation (child molestation) says that the laws of Country B can still apply to it's citizens when in foreign lands, the second situation (Yahoo! suit) says that the laws of Country B actually trump the laws of Country A when it's citizens are in country A.

          It would be "trumping" them if there were criminal charges to be filed for breaking Country B's laws in Country A. Yahoo is being held civilly, not criminally, liable. If a company chartered in Country B vio

    • We aren't talking about some arbitrary procedural law here. We are talking about suppression of ideas and torture of dissidents. These are international concepts, ones which many countries hold up as bad behavior. If Yahoo knew that the information it was providing the Chinese government would lead to violations of basic human rights, then shame on them for being complicit. The Chinese government should know that if they want to behave this way, that they will have to live without the Googles and Yahoos
    • It's a suit filed by a chinese journalist. America as a whole has nothing to do with this suit and, as far as I can tell, it doesn't even involve a US attorney. Can you please tell me why you're generalizing this to all Americans?
    • Can someone please tell me Why most Americans think that US law trumps other countries laws even inside those countries?

      I don't know whether you are intentionally misrepresenting the issue or you just don't understand the topic at hand, so I'll explain.

      The citizens of the USA collectively allowed Yahoo to exist. If they so chose, they can destroy it (an accept the economic consequences). The citizens have not yet decided whether their companies should be allowed to perform reprehensible acts overseas.

      Personally, I think companies which do things like selling human-sized ovens to Nazis should have their corporate charters di

  • "We were just following orders..."

    The universal defense of the repugnant.
    • "We were just following orders..."

      The universal defense of the repugnant.


      And a popular quote of the ill informed.

      It is *only* illegal to follow illegal orders, legal orders must be followed whether you believe them just or not. If China had provided something along the lines of a search warrant then compliances was most likely legal according to Chinese, US and international law. Furthermore, how would Yahoo know the warrant involves political activity rather than a "real crime"? You are being nai
      • It was perfectly legal in Nazi Germany for SS officers to have Jews murdered. I mean, it was German law that people of Jewish descent weren't persons, and could be used, abused and murdered.

        And yet, despite all of that, those who took part in the murder of Jews were classified as criminals by an international tribunal and were brought to justice.

        Now you can down Godwin any time you like, but the fact is that there is a precedent to not accepting "following orders" as a defense, even when the perpetrators w
        • It was perfectly legal in Nazi Germany for SS officers to have Jews murdered. I mean, it was German law that people of Jewish descent weren't persons, and could be used, abused and murdered. And yet, despite all of that, those who took part in the murder of Jews were classified as criminals by an international tribunal and were brought to justice.

          The Hague convention (Regulations respecting the laws and customs of war on land) outlaws the killing of civilians. As I mentioned in another response, some so
  • I'm sure Peter Drucker rolled in his grave when Yahoo handed over that information. It's nothing short of criminal activity - people got hurt because Yahoo made a business/money decision. Obviously, they did things right by following Chinese law which they are sidelining with. The RIGHT THING TO DO was to say "frack you - if I give you this you'll hunt them down - now bugger off!" - which would show true leadership and courage. It is now clear that the senior executives at Yahoo lack a moral conscious.

    Th
    • by Remus Shepherd (32833) <remus@panix.com> on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @12:47PM (#20386037) Homepage
      Not as simple as that. Yahoo's employees in China could have been arrested if they didn't comply. Thus, it was a case of who Yahoo allows to get screwed -- their employees, or some people to which they have no connection. They made the best choice, to protect their employees.

      The *right* choice would have been to not get into that situation in the first place. When it comes to doing business in China, the only ethical move is not to play. But very few businesses are that ethical...or have any ethics at all, where the potential for profit exists.
      • Move all the data to the US and close shop. Without access to the data, the employees are useless to the Chinese government.

        Well, China is turning out to not be the big economic machine people think it is. Sure, thre are a lot of people, but almost all of them have no money. Couple that with manufactures not need to comply with US laws, but the goods they sell here have to meet certian standards, and then you get recalls.

        I wonder how much money Mattel has saved with Chinese manufacturing?
  • On the surface, it would seem that you are bound by the laws of whatever country you are presently in. But I think there are mitigating circumstances here. We're talking about human rights violations.

    But let's just push the logical envelope and say, for the sake of argument that said foreign country mandates by law the death penalty for certain crimes that wouldn't be a crime anywhere else in the world... say, perhaps, speaking out against the government or refusal to wear a bhurka (however that's spelled
    • I believe it needs to be spelled out in no uncertain terms either by law or legal precedent that US companies or companies that wish to operate in the US should not be allowed to operate in the US if they are found guilty of being complicit or cooperative in the execution of laws or other legal activities in other nations that are in violation of generally accepted standards of human rights.

      The government would have to act that way first before it can tell its corporate citizens to do the same.
      And if all else fails, the corps will simply move to another, more profitable country [bbc.co.uk].

    • You pinkos sicken me. Where's Joe McCarthy when you need 'im. Everyone knows "human rights" is just a Bolshevik conspiracy. If "rights" really exist, the market will provide them, just like it does everything else. Sorry, I'm a little bitter today, and it seems I let my sarcasm run away with me.
  • That's one way to stifle other countries from setting up shop in your country. Make it almost impossible for them to do business.

    Then once they give up and go home, tax their imports as additional punishment for even trying.

  • American law does not apply in foreign jurisdictions. The Yahoo! disclosure in China was more than legal under Chinese law, it was illegal for Yahoo! to have ignored the request. Cast in another light, Slashdotters mostly thought that American copyright law should not have applied to allofmp3.com, which was based in Russia. It is sad that Chinese law is so horrible, but part of doing business in China is to follow the law there.

    Imagine if the American subsidiary of a Swiss bank ignored a subpoena from the FBI for information about one of its clients, who was thought to have links with Al Qaeda. I would imagine the bank would get shut down by law enforcement. This is the same thing; America should not be able to force other countries to submit to its laws simply because it is a big country with lots of money.
    • by Sunburnt (890890) * on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @02:02PM (#20387317)

      It is sad that Chinese law is so horrible, but part of doing business in China is to follow the law there[...]Imagine if the American subsidiary of a Swiss bank ignored a subpoena from the FBI for information about one of its clients, who was thought to have links with Al Qaeda. I would imagine the bank would get shut down by law enforcement.
      Gee, that would make so much more sense if there was some unalienable right of corporations to do business with repressive regimes. Of course, there isn't, so I don't see your point. If an American company has to have their Chinese operation shut down to avoid violating human rights, then tough titty to them. Doing business with dictators [wikipedia.org] has always been risky for American companies.
      • Are you suggesting that no American company should be allowed to invest in China? I'm sure that would really punish the Chinese government. Removing a major source of employment in poor areas would really spite the regime! You know, like, it wouldn't just completely screw the poor foreigners who are now out of work and have to starve just so we can feel like we did *something* to oppose their oppressive regime.

    • But why can't citizens (*not* "consumers") stand up and say: hey, *we* respect human rights, and we want our corporations to as well. If the price of doing business in some jurisdictions is violating human rights, why can't we demand of our corporations that they -- get ready for this -- *not do business in those jurisdictions!* These corporations, btw, take advantage of and depend upon the infrastructure and stability the US provides. Why is this so unthinkable to so many corporate apologists? What is
  • Doesn't matter what the legal problem with refusing the Chinese torture machine was. There is an overriding moral imperative not to turn in free men to torture by tyrants.

    If the current corporate moral climate stipulates that doing business with the tyrant is the overriding concern, then it is time to write some new laws. Repeal their "personhood". Make corporate executives personally liable for their decisions. And perhaps we can reintroduce an orignal limitation of corporate existence: expiration dates of
  • IANAL... (Score:5, Informative)

    by f1055man (951955) on Tuesday August 28, 2007 @01:33PM (#20386821)
    but I don't think this will be dismissed, at least not for the reason given. It doesn't matter if it was legal or legally required in the PRC. Check the wikipedia page for Alien Tort Claims Act (enacted in 1789 mainly to deal with piracy) or google search unocal and slavery. Unocal got nailed for using slave labor in Burma. The Burmese government provided the slaves. The court doesn't care if abiding by US law means breaking a foreign government's law or not doing business in that country. A great legal scholar once said, "tough shit" (so he was my roommate and rather mediocre).

    I think this is a very good thing. The ATCA simply requires corporations with US operations to follow very basic standards of human decency. If you want to assist a foreign government with genocide or running prison labor camps for dissidents don't expect to do it from U.S. soil. Corporations hate this of course, there's good money in human rights violations. Ethical and moral arguments clearly did not work for Yahoo and Google so maybe a lawsuit will remind them that there are consequences for being an accomplice.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lennier (44736)
      "If you want to assist a foreign government with genocide or running prison labor camps for dissidents don't expect to do it from U.S. soil."

      Unless you were IBM [wikipedia.org], but that was a while ago. They're on our side now.

  • If you got a problem with China or any country's policies, take it to the US government or even the UN. It's their job.

    Yahoo! is just an individual company. It's not US State Department or any authorities that actually have that kind of duty.

    Sure, some closed-mind conservatives say "you always have a choice". Not really. Global economy is here to stay and you'd be wipded out if you refuse to enter the world's biggest market because of ideology. Fortunately, even the US government knows refusing to talk beca
    • What do you suppose would happen to a US-based porn company that used an offshore subsidiary to produce child pornography?
      • by microbee (682094)
        I suppose it'd violate both US and China's laws. What's your point again?
        • Let's forget about the laws of the hypothetical offshore state, let's talk about what laws such a company would have violated in the United States, and about enforcement of such laws. Could the US pass a law making such an act, even by a US company's subsidiary, illegal (I think the answer is yes, it could, and has for certain other situations involving domestic interests in foreign places), and should it take the US company (and possibly its officers) to court over such activities?
          • by microbee (682094)
            First of all, I am not so sure what US laws Yahoo! could have violated - complying with subpoena from authorities IS complying with the law, even in the US. Anyone remembering when FBI wanted to ask for search records from Google?

            So the only difference is that we think the Chinese government is "evil". However, it then becomes a political question, not a legal question. Officially, US has not put China on the "evil country list", so even on that front it's not a problem.

            So I really don't see how Yahoo! coul
  • "'Defendants cannot be expected, let alone ordered to violate another nation's laws,'

    Nope. Wouldn't want to do that. Herding Jews into gas chambers? Nuh uh - not gonna do anything to stop that. Starving minority populations? Nope. Couldn't possibly be involved with anything that would get in the way of that. No no no - we don't want to grow a conscience - that's bad for business!

    RS

  • Can someone offer a qualified legal opinion with regard to the US law in this case?

    I do not understand how a company incorporated in Hong Kong (Yahoo! Holdings HK, Ltd.), which is part of the PRC, can be sued IN THE US for conforming with legal requirements in China for doing business in China.

    To me this would be similar to France suing eBay (US) for selling Nazi items in the US to US customers. The French government have the right to say that such things cannot be sold in France and cannot be sold to Frenc

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