Innovation

Yahoo accused of lying to Congress

Executives from Yahoo faced a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing for providing false information relating to the company's role in disclosing a former journalist's identity that led to his arrest.

Executives from Yahoo faced a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing for providing false information relating to the company's role in disclosing a former journalist's identity that led to his arrest.

In clear cut language, committee chairman, Tom Lantos, lambasted Yahoo General Counsel, Michael Callahan, with "inexcusably negligent behavior at best, and deliberately deceptive behavior at worst." Information revealed by Yahoo China was instrumental in the arrest of former journalist Shi Tao by the Chinese Government for advocating a democratic change in China over e-mail.

Other excerpts from the Chairman's Statement:

Yahoo had no means or, possibly, intent, to prevent Yahoo China from being a willing participant in political witch-hunts emanating from Beijing. Yahoo Inc. had no American lawyers in Beijing. There was no mechanism in place for Yahoo headquarters to review Chinese efforts to ferret out individuals who wish to see a more open and democratic China.

It should be self-evident that companies cannot get away with providing false information to Congress. So today, I call on Yahoo’s top corporate executives to apologize to this Committee, the Congress of the United States, and the American people.

While there are several measures being devised to prevent companies from revealing information on individuals except when it is for legitimate law-enforcement, is the Yahoo issue justified as an act of compliance for business?

China is complex business territory, but is that an excuse for blatant violation of user privacy? I believe this question holds for all technology giants focused on the Chinese demographics alone.

More information:

Congressional panel blasts Yahoo! execs on China record (Seattle Times)

US Congress berates Yahoo! in cyber-dissident row (ZDNet)

8 comments
yoda_azpirant
yoda_azpirant

what about the American companies, here in the U.S. that have been giving the government information illegally that has led to arrests and violations of civil rights, in massive quantities? more hypocrisy and smokescreens from a corrupt congress, i think. let's worry about our own people first, please!

jredmon
jredmon

Douglas, I couldn't agree more with your accessment, congress sounds pretty silly complaining about this... However, come on Yoda...what the heck are you talking about here? American companies are not freely giving out our private information to the goverment...please. Let's get a grip here and lose the conspriacy theories. Too many movies for you. Let's think about your statement...American Companies would jeopardize their customer base to give the government your personal information? This sounds silly just on this, but then your said..."illegally"? Why would business jeopardize going to prison to give the government your information? What is in it for business? Where does this make sense for them to do this? Where is the proof? What examples do you have of such a practice? Makes you sound like a nut job....

Inkling
Inkling

Thanks to you and the poster above you for making this point!

douglasjohnledet
douglasjohnledet

The arrest of a supporter of free speech is a tragic item, no matter where it happens. But what a bunch of hypocrites we have in the US Congress. They pass laws that allow the FBI to demand similar information from ISP's about U.S. citizens, then are outraged when the Chinese government does the same thing. After 40 years of watching politicians, I am still disgusted with their two-faced approach to government. Doug

OldER Mycroft
OldER Mycroft

When he was pulled up in front of Congress, over his meetings with Sadaam Hussein, he ripped into them like a whirling dervish. He left the Committee looking like a badly organized Chimp's Tea-Party.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

If they'd have refused to provide the information, the chinese government would have made things difficult for them and profits would drop. Think of the shareholders ! You must be one of those IT types who knows nothing about business. :D

pr.arun
pr.arun

Yes, truly it all comes down to business which is why I believe the user privacy agreement that you sign is as good as nothing

pr.arun
pr.arun

China is ?complex? business territory, but is that an excuse for blatant violation of user privacy?

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