Last week i focused on the U.S. Congress’ attack on Net Neutrality. Sticking with the theme of the internet, i’ve decided to highlight a case involving Yahoo!, the Chinese government, and a journalist. The following information is from Amnesty International:
Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist, is serving a ten-year prison sentence in China for sending an email. Writing about a Communist Party decision, Shi Tao sent the email to the USA using his Yahoo account. The Chinese authorities accused him of “illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities”.
According to the Court transcript, the evidence that led to Shi Tao’s sentencing included account-holder information provided by US internet company Yahoo. Disturbingly, it has recently come to light that Yahoo may have also released data which could have contributed to the arrest of another dissident, Li Zhi.
Shi Tao was accused of sending an email summarizing an internal Communist Party directive to a foreign source. The Communist Party directive had warned Chinese journalists of possible social unrest during the anniversary of the June 4 Movement (in memory of the Tiananmen crackdown), and directed them not to fuel it via media reports. Imprisoned for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression, a right entrenched in international law and the Chinese Constitution, Amnesty International considers Shi Tao a prisoner of conscience.
Companies must respect human rights, wherever they operate. Yahoo’s actions are not justifiable: the company unconditionally met the Chinese government’s request for information on Shi Tao, and allegedly contributed to Li Zhi’s detention.
Paradoxically, Yahoo has stated that it believes in the core values of “excellence, innovation, customer fixation, team work, community and fun”. Yet, the company has signed the Public Pledge on Self-Discipline for the Internet Industry, effectively agreeing to implement China’s draconian system of censorship and control.
Amnesty International has raised its concerns with Yahoo. The company has responded but has not addressed all the concerns raised.
Write to Yahoo now, expressing your concern about the company’s role in assisting in the violation of Shi Tao’s rights. Yahoo must use its influence to secure Shi Tao’s release. You can check out this page for a sample letter or you can write your own letter and send it to the following (send all emails to both Jerry Yang and David Filo):
Jerry Yang and David Filo
Co-founders, Chief Yahoo & Directors
Emails: [email protected]; [email protected]
Michael Callahan, Senior VP General Counsel: [email protected]
Gregory Coleman, Exec VP Global Advertising Sales: [email protected]
Yahoo Customer Care
701 First Avenue
Sunnyvale, California 94089
If you can, call Yahoo Customer Care to make your points over the phone: 001-408-349-1572