Monday, March 10, 2008

Internet censorship in China: Is Yahoo worse than the others?

Yahoo is getting sued again over its activities in China. But is Yahoo's track record in China really any different from that of Google or Microsoft? Global Voices co-founder Rebbecca MacKinnon argues it is:
. . . Yahoo was much worse. Neither Google nor Microsoft set up local Chinese-language e-mail services with the user data sitting on computer servers inside the People's Republic of China, under PRC legal jurisdiction. Gmail and Hotmail data are not subject to Chinese police order the way Yahoo! Chinese e-mail is. Google and Microsoft have said in public statements that the reason why they're not doing e-mail in China is to avoid being complicit in sending dissidents to jail. Also, as I found out when doing test searches for Human Rights Watch in 2006, Yahoo! Chinese search censors much more heavily than Google and MSN - and as we can see from the Guo Quan case, sometimes they even censor more heavily than Baidu!
I suspect many people -- around the world -- would be interested to know this.

Thanks to Yahoo!, two Chinese citizens -- Shi Tao and Li Zhi -- have occupied jail cells since 2005 and 2003, respectively. Astoundingly, as recently as 2007 the shareholders of Yahoo! heavily rejected a proposal to "set up a human rights committee which would review its policies around the world, specifically China."

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