Yahoo Helped China Imprison Journalist Says Reporters Without Borders
According to a report released by Reports Without Borders (Reporters sans frontieres) Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong, China) helped China convict a journalist by providing the Chinese government with information to identify Shi Tao. Shi Tao was convicted to 10 years for leaking government information to the external media. Tao sent foreign websites copies of a message Chinese authorities sent to his newspaper which warned of the “dangers of social destabilisation and risks resulting from the return of certain dissidents on the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.”
The message was top secret and not meant to be shared with anyone outside of the Dangdai Shang Bao (Contemporary Business News) paper. Shi admits to sending out the email, but argued that the message was not “top secret.”
Yahoo and Google have been getting alot of (kung pao) beef over working with the Chinese government on issues such as censorship in search listings, but this accusation of Yahoo handing over private info to the Chinese government is a first. Of course, one of Shi’s first mistakes may have been using a Yahoo China account, as Yahoo China must comply with Chinese law when it comes to privacy policies. And the policies of China may tend to be a bit different than those of Yahoo Europe or Yahoo US. But, since China is a Socialist Capitalist society with a one party rule, China bashers are sure to jump upon the sentencing of Shi Tao and Yahoo’s role in the matter. From Reporters sans frontieres:
“Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. provided the Chinese investigation with detailed information that apparently enabled them to link Shi’s personal e-mail account (firstname.lastname@example.org) and the specific message containing information treated as a “state secret” to the IP address of his computer.
Yahoo ! Holdings (Hong Kong) is subject to Hong Kong legislation, which does not spell out the responsibilities in this kind of situation of companies that provide e-mail services. Nonetheless, it is reportedly customary for e-mail service and Internet access providers to transmit information to the police about their clients when shown a court order.
Tests carried out by Reporters Without Borders seem to indicate that the servers used for the Yahoo.com.cn e-mail service, from which the information about Shi was extracted, are located on the Chinese mainland.”