Yahoo! condemned as 'Chinese police informant'
By Steve Malone
Posted on 9 Sep 2005 at 10:33
Internet portal Yahoo! has been accused of colluding with the Chinese authorities to track down and convict a pro-democracy campaigner. The campaigner Shi Tao was sentenced to 10 years in prison in April for 'providing state secrets to foreign entities'.
The press freedom pressure group Reporters without Borders (Reporters San Frontieres) says that the judgement of the court case clearly indicates that Yahoo! China supplied the local police with information linking to Tao's email address.
Citing evidence in the case that 'Account holder information furnished by Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd, which confirms the IP address 18.104.22.1681', the Chinese authorities linked Tao with an email sent from his personal mail account that contained details of a 'top secret' document from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.
In a statement, which will make uncomfortable reading for Yahoo!, Reporters Without Borders said 'We already knew that Yahoo ! collaborates enthusiastically with the Chinese regime in questions of censorship, and now we know it is a Chinese police informant as well.'
The organisation continues, 'Yahoo ! obviously complied with requests from the Chinese authorities to furnish information regarding an IP address that linked Shi Tao to materials posted online, and the company will yet again simply state that they just conform to the laws of the countries in which they operate.'
Which is precisely what Yahoo! has done. In a statement, Yahoo spokesperson Mary Osaka said 'Just like any other global company, Yahoo must ensure that its local country sites must operate within the laws, regulations and customs of the country in which they are based.'
Of course, no one should be much surprised. In April, at about the same time that Shi Tao's trial was taking place, a study by Oxford University concluded that Chinese online censorship was 'the most sophisticated in the world'. This has not prevented western companies queuing up to do business with the Chinese.
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