Here is the complete statement from Reporters Without Borders on the matter of Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist whose political imprisonment was reportedly helped along by Yahoo. The heart of it is this:
REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS: 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. But does the fact that this corporation operates under Chinese law free it from all ethical considerations? How far will it go to please Beijing?
Pretty far, apparently. The New York Times reports on the story today, in a piece buried inside the business section. Among other things, we learn that Reporters Without Borders’ predictive powers are outstanding, as the Times quotes from this Yahoo corporate statement: “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.”
InstaPundit Glenn Reynolds points to this post on the Berkman Center’s Global Voices blog. The fact that Reynolds is on the case guarantees that this is going to spread across blogland – as it should.
Earlier this year I wrote an article on how big Internet companies could violate your privacy with the supposedly non-personal information they collect as you go about your business online. The example I used was Google, simply because it’s bigger than everyone else. But, as Shi Tao has learned to his sorrow, it’s something any Internet company can do. Shame on Yahoo.