back to article Yahoo! China! sued! in! US!

The wife of the Chinese dissident jailed with the help of Yahoo! is suing the company in the US courts. The World Organisation for Human Rights is backing the case. Wang Xiaoning was given a 10 year sentence for postings he made to a Yahoo! group. Chinese authorities asked Yahoo! for information to identify the man. Wang …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Phil

    Stupid is as stupid does.

    I hope that the US court throws this lawsuit out of court. One country cannot rule on the laws of another. If they do not, then should Yahoo! disobey the laws of the United States in the United States if some other country wants them to do so?

    The human rights issues involved in this case is not the fault of Yahoo! or Google. They hardly should be held responsible for something they did not create.

    If the wife of the dissident wishes to sue someone, perhaps it should be China. Where she would do this, I have no idea. But a US court should not be involved.

    And the organizations backing this should be ashamed of themselves for leading her to believe that this has merit. They would serve their cause better if they acted in a responsible manner.

    PS to whomever wrote this article: You may want to run the article through a spell checker before posting it. You have several errors in spelling and you use the wrong word in some cases.

  2. daniel

    SELECT free_speech FROM china : 0 results returned.

    OK, collaborating reminds us of Vichy France and Nazi Germany, concentration camps ad nauseam, but Yahoo! does have a point: What we believe to be morally reprihensible, and more to the point, illegal/immoral/anticonstitutional (except if your name is Bush), but for the Chinese, it's just business as usual.

    We take free speech for granted, but not all countries grant this freedom (like Australia if my memory serves me correctly, but then again, the ozzies don't run protesters over with tanks - do they?)

    This brings an interesting problem: How to do internet business - internet meaning information & communication - in a country that refuses free speech: it will get just as complex as getting copyright licence from a Communist government who does not believe in property (anyone for Tetris?).

    For me, I can see only one workaround short of invasion, (sorry, liberation), and that would be storing the servers outside of the country, and having a non-responsible office with no powers other than tech-support.

    What ever happens, the Chinese government can still shut your access down, but this time by only blocking ports, and not by seizing your servers, staff, friends and family, and feeding parts of them to Pandas to get the root password...

    This would not stop any government from feeding your gonads to the Pandas or dropping you off the Great Wall just for the hell of it but hopefully, the local governement retribution would be less harsh if they recognised that the local Yahoo!/MSN/Google office could do nothing to help them and the worse they could do is cut their networks off, and that they could never get anyone else out of this.

    What would happen then? The local governement would install their own "free" chat rooms and request username, password, address, and preferences (bullet - left or right ear or 10 years porridge?) - they probably already have...



  3. Andrew Bright

    And of course our share holders insist we exploit every market possible

    Absolutely. I sympathise 100% with Yahoo, after all it's just a few guys trying to make a little extra cash to help pay the rent.

    If they didn't operate in China, who knows what they'd do - probably all lose their homes, have to prostitute their wives and sell their children to Thailand.

    Not to mention the poor, unfortunate and underprivileged shareholders whose very livelihoods are tied to Yahoo's success overseas.

    And of course we have the issue of discrimination. Despots, dictators and totalitarian regimes have the right to search for porn too. If we discriminated against these minorities where would it stop?

    So while it may seem the obvious answer is to simply leave, you have to remember all the good they're doing by staying put. After all they're helping to spread the GW brand of democracy (every telecommunications and internet corporate should do it's duty and help spy and detain those making excessive use of their human rights - it's sort of like broadband downloads - those that overuse their rights will have them throttled back).

    What would the people of China do if decent American companies like Yahoo didn't exploit their market? In the war on communism there has to be some casualties, and unfortunately the odd bit of friendly fire.

    So keep up the good work Yahoo, we understand your situation and sympathise with the difficult position you're put in when you have to balance a person's human rights against the overwhelming need to extract as much profit as you can for the sake of your families lifestyles and your shareholders dividends.

  4. Morely Dotes

    Remember apartheid?

    Remember this?

    Yahoo, by doing business with, and in, China is supporting a repressive regime which is even more evil than the GW Bush administration and worse than the South African goverment during the years of apartheid.

    If Yahoo is unable to avoid complying with Chinese laws that compel the exposure of Chinese dissidents while Yahoo does business in China, then Yahoo should stop doing business in China, or be prepared to suffer the legitimate and well-deserved penalties for helping China suppress human rights.

    China cannot afford to be economically isolated now, any more than South Africa could. Boycott China, and the Chinese government will either permit freedom of expression, or suffer a massive revolt of their own people - who will replace the current regime with another, hopefully less-repressive, one. This is inevitable.

    Yahoo, if the cost of doing business in China is too high for you - get out of China. Yes, it really is that simple.

  5. TNT

    This is a good way to enforce detachment from bad Human Rights regimes

    What an excellent way of forcing corporate US search engines to disengage from countries with such abysmal human rights records.

    Let's see...10 years at £60/hour = £5,256,000 ($10,512,00) (not including leap years) plus compound interest...

    Hmm, if every person jailed as a result of Yahoo!, Google, MSN, et al, costs these companies these basic saleries, I have a feeling the cost will dictate withdrawal.

    And then there are the legal bills....there HAS to be at least one lawyer, in the 'States that can make a handsome living out of this...

    And there is the American system of Class actions, of which this is, surely, a classic cause celebre, would cost every non-Chinese ISP/search engine/etc . billions of dollars.

    Is there a need for a specific organisation to push a class action?


  6. TNT

    ...and then there is Guantanamo Bay

    ...sorry for the further thought...

    Having looked at these laws, the inhuman conditions of Guantanamo confinement, coupled with Extreme Rendition, leave an avenue for full and complete restitution by the Bush administration, possibly even George W, personally...

    We already know there are enough people to justify a class action...


  7. Mike Moyle

    RE: Stupid is as stupid does.

    Phil -

    At the risk of excessive pedantry:

    "PS to whomever wrote this article: You may want to run the article through a spell checker before posting it. You have several errors in spelling and you use the wrong word in some cases."

    Did you possibly mean a spellING checker...? I saw no magic(k)al errors.



    As to your statements:

    "(T)he organizations backing this should be ashamed of themselves for leading her to believe that this has merit. They would serve their cause better if they acted in a responsible manner."

    You might want to read this article ( in which - while discussing a separate case - the author gives a brief but clear explanation of the history and scope of the Alien Tort Claims Act. Short form: It's not as certain a losing case as you seem to think.

  8. Phil

    I still say: Stupid is as stupid does

    Mike Moyle - No I didn't mean spelllNG checker. I meant spell checker, but if you'd prefer spelling checker or even spelllNG checker, not a problem. And check the word Alien in the original article.

    The lawsuit is just wrong. If the US government allows this, while at the same time encouraging companies to do business in China, there is something seriously wrong with the law.

    But if this woman succeeds in blaming Yahoo! for something that is only between her husband and the Chinese Government, I do agree with some of the other posts ... Yahoo!, Google and all other companies should immediately leave China and not do business there again until this is corrected. It would be like suing a newspaper because they printed an article and from the article a country prosecuted one of their citizens. And the organizations who encourage this type lawsuits are just a drain on our society. Unless everyone wants everyone else to be afraid to do anything lest they be sued, someone, somewhere needs to put a stop to this nonsense.

  9. Steve Roper

    Companies and country law

    While I am opposed strongly to all forms of tyranny, I have to agree with Daniel on this point.

    If a company opens its doors in another country, it must abide by the laws of that country, not the country in which it is incorporated. Imagine the furore there would be if Bin Laden Constructions (US Division) Ltd. refused to hand over the details of its bomb-toting employees to the FBI upon service of a legal warrant in the US, simply because making explosives might be legal in Saudi Arabia.

    Now everyone KNOWS the Chinese government does not want people talking about Tiananmen Square. It's been made perfectly clear, many times, that anyone spouting anti-government sentiment in China is gulag bait. Those who express such sentiments will doubtless find allies in their cause, but that does not include everyone else, and they do so knowing the risks. Rise against your government, expect to be opposed.

    Furthermore Yahoo, besides the moral dilemma of aiding or opposing a despotic regime, must also consider the more far-reaching consequences of its decisions. Such as: Suppose Yahoo DID defy the Chinese government in aid of the rebels. They're an AMERICAN corporation. In case some people haven't noticed, America and China aren't the best of friends. China could then accuse America of using Yahoo to undermine its government's authority - and blammo - World War IV! (or World War III Part 2 depending on your point of view)

    I don't envy Yahoo its position. For them, this is the ultimate PR nightmare. But that, too is a risk any company takes when it decides to open its doors in a country known for its oppressive behaviour. Yes, China is a huge market. It's also a bloody dangerous one. High risk - high gain. Or high loss. Yahoo took the gamble. Now they suffer the consequences.

    BTW, Daniel, you are partly right about Australia and free speech. The fact is, there is no provision for freedom of speech in our constitution, which means that technically, we don't have it. We also have a sedition law (which was vigorously opposed by the public, but since when did that stop a government passing any law it wants?). However, as you say, our army does not run civvies over in tanks, and chances are, given the "fair go mate" nature of our military men and women, they would refuse any order to do so. With an election looming later this year, our current PM is now lagging badly in the polls because of his freedom-destroying tactics, and unlike the Chinese, Australia is a multi-party democracy, so any government that tries Chinese enforcement tactics soon finds itself on the backbench at the next election!

  10. Steve

    America, f**k yeah !

    "Boycott China, and the Chinese government will either permit freedom of expression, or suffer a massive revolt of their own people - who will replace the current regime with another, hopefully less-repressive, one."

    And therein lies the rub, boycott China and say goodbye to cheap consumer goods, hello to massive inflation and general economic collapse. This is particularly true for the US, but many other countries (the UK for one) owe their current economic stability to the availablilty of cheap Chinese imports (or so the economic talking heads tell me anyway).

    The rest of the world's governments simply can't afford not to do business with China, because if they did they would be presiding over a massive economic slump, at which point they would all lose their seats and be replaced at the next set of elections.

    It's far to late now for the rest of the world to start complaining about China's human rights record when we are so dependent on trading with them, and it's frankly laughable for the US, with it's mass surveilance of it's own citizens, suspension of human (and constitutional) rights, illegal detention and torture of foreign nationals, etc, to be complaining to anyone else about how they conduct their affairs in this respect.

    Hypocrisy simply isn't a strong enough word.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021