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Yahoo Rejects Anti-Censorship Proposal

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the didn't-know-yahoo-was-still-even-in-business dept.

Censorship 150

Matthew Skala writes "The BBC reports that Yahoo! has rejected a shareholder proposal to adopt an anti-censorship policy, as well as one to set up a human rights committee to review the impact of Yahoo!'s operations in places like China. The interesting proposals are numbers 6 and 7 in the proxy statement available through EDGAR. This news comes on the heels of jailed Chinese reporter Shi Tao, suing Yahoo! for its involvement in his conviction, and Google's rejection of a similar proposal. The anti-censorship proposal was submitted by the same groups (several New York City pension funds) as the Google proposal. The proxy statement also includes the Board's recommendations — "strongly oppose[ing]" both proposals — with explanations of their reasoning."

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150 comments

The Board's Response (2, Informative)

casings (257363) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490333)

Board of Directors Statement and Recommendation AGAINST Stockholder Proposal

Yahoo! shares the proponent's commitment to human rights, and as described in more detail in the board's statement in opposition to proposal no. 6 in this proxy statement, the Company's management team has already instituted practices and initiatives that are designed to assess the implications of the Company's activities and policies and to protect and advance essential freedoms, such as freedom of expression and privacy rights.

To further advance thinking and practices around the promotion of free expression and privacy, Yahoo! is actively engaged in a formal dialogue, co-facilitated by Business for Social Responsibility and the Center for Democracy & Technology, that includes industry counterparts, various human rights groups, academic institutions and socially responsible investors. This diverse group aims to produce a set of global principles and operating procedures on freedom of expression and privacy to guide company behavior when faced with laws, regulations and policies that interfere with human rights. The group's goals also include creating an implementation, accountability and governance framework, as well as a forum for sharing ideas.

These practices and initiatives have been developed by Yahoo! management based on its thorough and careful consideration of the inherent complexities associated with operating under the laws of multiple foreign countries. The board of directors believes that Yahoo!'s management team, with its day-to-day involvement in the Company's business operations and its detailed understanding of the legislative and regulatory landscape of the countries in which the Company operates, is in the best position to assess these matters and to make informed judgments as to what practices and policies are most likely to promote the interests of the Company and its stockholders and users.

Re:The Board's Response (2, Informative)

glesga_kiss (596639) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490885)

Board of Directors Statement and Recommendation AGAINST Stockholder Proposal

This is always the case at an AGM. I've never seen the board recommend FOR a stockholder proposal, nor have I ever seen one voted in. They are a waste of time regardless of the company.

Re:The Board's Response (4, Interesting)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490939)

Yahoo! shares the proponent's commitment to human rights

...as long as it doesn't cost us any money.

Re:The Board's Response (1)

bubbl07 (777082) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491531)

We can rebuild him, we have the technology... but I don't want to spend a lot of money

* Peter runs through the park with a dustbin for one leg, a plunger for the other and a rake for an arm *

Nothing to see here (1)

ReidMaynard (161608) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490341)

Please keep moving..

Sincerely,

Yahoo! IT Dept

Shi Tao? or Shit Ao? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19490387)

Strange name for this chinese dude

Good ol' proposals. (5, Funny)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490415)

China's proposal for anti-censorship against Google's said proposal is to propose a censorship proposal proposition. In response the proposal set by China, Google proposed to set a an anti-proposal toward Yahoo's proposal to create a proposal against the China anti-censorship proposal. These proposals were proposed as a proposition to anti-proposialism, not censorship.

Re:Good ol' proposals. (1, Funny)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490485)

Yes, I'll marry you!

Re:Good ol' proposals. (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490597)

Awesome, accept this milk ring as a token of my gratitude.

Re:Good ol' proposals. (3, Funny)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490729)

This post was rated as "overrated" when it wasn't even rated. So, does that mean the "overrated" rating was overrated? So, therefore it's not overrated?

Re:Good ol' proposals. (3, Funny)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490807)

Is there an echo in your basement?

Re:Good ol' proposals. (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491483)

Good question. If I'm not in it, and something drops... does it echo?

hmm.

Re:Good ol' proposals. (3, Funny)

jagdish (981925) | more than 7 years ago | (#19493149)

Is there an echo in your basement? ..

Re:Good ol' proposals. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19490817)

This post was rated as "overrated" when it wasn't even rated. So, does that mean the "overrated" rating was overrated? So, therefore it's not overrated?
No, it just means that you are a fscking retard.

Re:Good ol' proposals. (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490919)

Overrated (and underrated) mods aren't subject to meta-moderation. Whoever modded it didn't want any chance of some M2 marking his moderation 'unfair', thus negatively affecting his karma.

Re:Good ol' proposals. (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490971)

Basically, triggerhappy and sour.

Re:Good ol' proposals. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19491361)

Or, not even worthy to be at level 1.

Re:Good ol' proposals. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491677)

Which pretty much sums up moderation on slashdot... although maybe half of the moderation trolls mod as Troll, not Overrated (only the smart ones do the latter. Or at least educated ones.)

Re:Good ol' proposals. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#19492953)

You know, a lot of over/underrated abuse could be removed by only allowing over/underrated mods to be applied after others, and only to count towards a fraction of the total. For example:

Someone posting with a karma bonus starts at 2. Overrated moderations should not be allowed to take them below 3, and underrated should not be able to take them over 1. If they are on 0, or -1, then an underrated moderation will negate one down-mod. If they are on 4 or 5, then a an overrated mod will negate one up-mod.

Re:Good ol' proposals. (1)

asninn (1071320) | more than 7 years ago | (#19492015)

At the risk of getting modded off-topic (or maybe informative *coughcough*), "overrated" applies to the score of a comment, not the moderations done to it - that is, the rating rather than the ratings.

What if they don't comply? (3, Insightful)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490449)

Here's what I don't understand, if Yahoo! stops complying with local laws, as these shareholders suggest, wouldn't it be purely and simply out of business in China? Could any company violate the Chinese laws and keep working in China, thus providing Chinese citizens a breach in the Great Firewall?

Because that's where it doesn't make sense to me, but maybe my analyse is a bit over-simplistic, if Yahoo! tries not to apply censorship laws, then it won't be able to operate in China and thus it wouldn't be any good for either Yahoo! or Chinese web-surfers, right? Or did I get something wrong?

Re:What if they don't comply? (4, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490557)

Indeed, you got it exactly right. Yahoo's board further said that they think they have more leverage and actually promote free speech if they stay engaged, rather than taking their ball and going home.

Re:What if they don't comply? (1)

spellraiser (764337) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490703)

They're shareholders. Why should they concern themselves with anything other than the company's profit? I know this sounds harsh and cynical, but this is the simple truth behind the public company concept. Whatever lofty reasons they might give for their decision, the real reason is that losing business in China would mean losing profits.

Re:What if they don't comply? (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490823)

Because shareholders are human beings with thoughts, ideals and hopefully some conscience. The very idea that shareholders ONLY care about the end-result profitability of a company is and always has been a ridiculous assertion.

The proposal has been made and the board of directors have recommended voting against it proposal brought about by other shareholders. So it is the directors who are placing profit above human rights and not the shareholders at large. The very idea that the shareholders at large are responsible is ridiculous. The people responsible for the decisions made are far fewer and less obscure than you are trying to indicate.

Re:What if they don't comply? (1)

z80kid (711852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491007)

From TFA:

"Yahoo shareholders have rejected plans for the company to adopt a policy that opposes censorship on the internet."

The summary is misleading. It makes it seem like all the shareholders wanted this and the board shot it down.

"A shareholder proposal" in the summary means a proposal put forth by a shareholder - not ratified by all of them as a group.

Re:What if they don't comply? (4, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491169)

The proposal has been made and the board of directors have recommended voting against it proposal brought about by other shareholders. So it is the directors who are placing profit above human rights and not the shareholders at large. The very idea that the shareholders at large are responsible is ridiculous. The people responsible for the decisions made are far fewer and less obscure than you are trying to indicate.

It's not ridiculous at all. The directors have only recommended that the shareholders vote against the proposal. It's still up to the shareholders themselves to vote to make the final decision. The shareholders are ultimately responsible, not the board.

That said, boards of directors traditionally have a lot of sway in how the shareholders vote. Many companies are owned largely by various mutual funds and not by individual people, and the shares owned by the funds are voted for them by the fund manager. And fund managers almost always vote the way the board of directors recommend, meaning this might be the kiss of death for the proposal.

The shareholders do have another option, though. They can divest themselves from a stock they consider morally repugnant. This was done with modest success back in the 1980s to companies who did business with apartheid Africa; But mutual funds have grown much larger since then, and a sell-off by concerned individuals would probably have little effect on Yahoo!s stock price.

There are also mutual funds that pledge to invest in only socially responsible companies (can't think of their names right now, but they're pretty easy to find.) If they own any Yahoo! stock today, their fund managers would probably vote their shares for the proposal, and if it failed to pass they would probably divest themselves.

Re:What if they don't comply? (1)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491665)

The shareholders are ultimately responsible, not the board.

I'd bet that not a single board member is so poor that he couldn't take the risk of getting fired over being anti-censorship and look for another job. If they do decide to instead direct the company without a sense of morals they don't do it because they are forced. There is nobody who could apply any pressure to them beyond - "oh I can't by another Porsche this year". So if they do suggest a policy like that they do it based on their own free will. They might genuinely believe that it's morally acceptable to comply with the Chinese regulations in this case, they might be motivated by nothing but greed - but if they think what they do is morally wrong they have no-one to blame but themselves. That other people could have stopped them, only means that they'd be guilty, too - I doesn't absolve them of their own responsibility.

Re:What if they don't comply? (1)

seriesrover (867969) | more than 7 years ago | (#19492435)

No, the golden rule of business is first and foremost they have to make money, otherwise they don't exist. "Profit" is not a bad thing, but yes it has to be done in an appropriate way - that means abiding by the law, thus the directors recommendation.


The directors are not giving the finger to human rights - you're getting confused with the Chinese government that are doing that. It will also continue to happen regardless of the decisions of Yahoo shareholders or directors.

And besides, do shareholders buy their stock with love and emotion or instead with money and a view to make some profit on it? Or do you think buying stock in a company that refuses to abide by the laws and get thrown out is the best way to counter human rights?

Re:What if they don't comply? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 7 years ago | (#19493999)

I have to disagree with your stance that a company can or should knowingly support activities that are contrary to public morals even if it's legal by the standards of another country.

By your logic, it's perfectly okay to support another country's activity in the exploitation of children in pornography, prostitution or labor if it happens to be legal in that country. Does the argument change when the issue is more focused? I'm not saying China is good with the exploitation of children, I'm just trying to use an extreme example.

I believe the directors ARE in fact giving the finger to human rights. When they see it in front of them and actively choose to support and assist the activities of human rights violations for profit, then it's clear that money and profit is more important than the exploitation of humans and human rights. The stance that "it would happen anyway" is ridiculous. It happens because of all of the smaller contributions combined. And Yahoo is no small contributor when it comes to commerce in China.

Re:What if they don't comply? (1)

Tickletaint (1088359) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490829)

It would also mean Chinese citizens lose access to a somewhat useful collection of websites. I'd rather have a limited Yahoo than none at all.

Re:What if they don't comply? (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490973)

It might encourage Chinese citizens to break through the Great Firewall of China, which would result in some of them getting imprisoned, which might encourage a revolution.

Or we can keep helping the Chinese government provide circuses to the Chinese people while also reporting those who dare do something unapproved by the Chinese government to the government.

I know which option I'd rather take.

Re:What if they don't comply? (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490879)

Shareholders are people. Some people put human rights above money. An amazing concept I know, but its true.

Re:What if they don't comply? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19490921)

>They're shareholders. Why should they concern themselves with anything other than the company's profit?

For the sake of argument, baby-fucking is okay with you if it's government sponsored and done to increase shareholder value? This is sounding trollish, but let's just go all the way and see what kind of society it leaves us in the end. Let's find some hellhole where we can inject money into the local economy by fucking toddlers. I'm sure it can be done with enough money on the table.

Re:What if they don't comply? (1)

seriesrover (867969) | more than 7 years ago | (#19492733)

Yes it does sound like a troll. Can you please cite any policy from ANY company ANYWHERE that says "baby-fucking is ok since it increases shareholder value"? When you take someone's point and extend it by "lets just go all the way and see" you've basically lost the arguement - you're changing the parameters of what they say instead of debating what they said. Just because Yahoo (or Google or whoever) is operating in a country it doesnt mean they are sanctioning the governments policy of, in this case, in-human rights. They either exist in that country by the laws or they don't. End of story.


Yahoo is a large internet company - not a coup organisation. The current choice for them is to provide chinese citizens with a limited (partial censorship if you like) view on the world or none at all (full censorship). There is no free speech option here and no "baby-fucking for profit" inferences will change that.

Re:What if they don't comply? (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490935)

You're confusing your logic. The unintelligent, non-human "company" is the only force that moves without reason nor care of consequences towards profit. The individual shareholders are indeed capable of using their wealth and power to further whatever goals, charities, or purposes they want.

Why is it that most people on here (and indeed, lots of places) go out of their way to justify just not giving a damn about other people? If we want to be selfish and care not for others, then just do it openly. The attempts at adding logic behind it are getting tiresome.

Re:What if they don't comply? (2, Informative)

Broken scope (973885) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490967)

Because company image can have significant impact on company profits?

Re:What if they don't comply? (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491697)

Unless, somehow, they could generate more profit by being the only multinational corporation with a strong stance on censorship.

I think if Yahoo took that stand it'd be a great F.U. to Google. Whether that F.U. can turn into money down the road is anyone's guess.

Would you stop using Google things (maps, gmail, etc) if Yahoo had those tools AND were anti-censorship? It's ok... I don't know if I would either.

Re:What if they don't comply? (2, Insightful)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 7 years ago | (#19492073)

"Would you stop using Google things (maps, gmail, etc) if Yahoo had those tools AND were anti-censorship?"

Hell no. I choose my email, maps, search engines, etc. based on functionality, not politics.

Re:What if they don't comply? (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491203)

It's difficult to see how one can promote free speech by helping to imprision anyone who says something the CCCP doesn't like. In fact, I'll go one step further: If you claim to be promoting free speech by engaging in censorship, you are a liar.

Re:What if they don't comply? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490579)

No, you got it exactly right. I'm surprised you haven't been modded down yet for it, though. Every time I say that, someone replies with 'Yahoo shouldn't help evil!' and 'if those people didn't want to be evil, they shouldn't work for a company that deals with evil countries!' and 'it's better to sacrifice yourself than someone else' even though it probably wasn't the employees IN China that even got to make the decision.

Yahoo's in an impossible position. If they leave China, they've abandoned people. If they stay in China, they've abandoned people. (To censorship, in both cases.)

Re:What if they don't comply? (1)

casings (257363) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490581)

I believe you are correct: If they stopped censorship then they would not be allowed to operate in China. Which everyone agrees isn't good for yahoo monetarily. However, their presence is not exactly good for the Chinese people either because the company is opening the Chinese people up to what many in our world see as human rights violations by reporting them to the government.

If I were a citizen I wouldn't want the company acting as government shills. And since I am a stockholder, I am going to act on my personal moral beliefs and not the beliefs of my wallet. If Yahoo's ethics wasn't driven by their revenues, then we wouldn't be having this discussion.

Re:What if they don't comply? (1)

z80kid (711852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491139)

>However, their presence is not exactly good for the Chinese people either because the company is opening the Chinese people up to what many in our world see as human rights violations by reporting them to the government.


By that logic, anyone's presence there is bad for the people in China. Because anyone doing any business there - even visiting as a tourist - must obey they laws.

Does anyone here really expect that the Chinese people don't know this?

Re:What if they don't comply? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19492063)

"If Yahoo's ethics wasn't driven by their revenues, then we wouldn't be having this discussion."

Aw, COME ON! Yahoo is a corporation, it exists to make money. If a corporation could make money by scraping the skin off newborns' faces, they would do it. That's the way things work, deal with it.

Ah, and Google is NOT your friend, unless you are a shareholder.

Re:What if they don't comply? (3, Interesting)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490615)

Part of me wonders if there's a "breaking point" -- a point where Chinese officials will start loving money so much that they actually won't kick out a company that decides to take a stand against them.

Re:What if they don't comply? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491679)

Yeah, when you think about the problem some more, imagine that Google, Yahoo and Microsoft ceased any activity in China as the aforementioned shareholders suggested, maybe at some point the Chinese government would feel forced to bend their rules for these companies to come back in order to not become technologically retarded.

Or maybe more alternatives to these sites (iirc the #1 search engine in China is a Chinese search engine which obviously complies with the laws) could develop and ultimately Google, Yahoo! or Microsoft wouldn't really be "needed" anymore in China..

The almighty buck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19490751)

If a country had a law that said any foreign business had to fuck a one-year old to get permission to operate locally, everyone would be outraged of they actually did it. 'Whaaat? But it's the law, we had too or we couldn't do business... the 1yo would be fucked by someone else if we didn't do it...'

However, when you fuck over billions with thin allusions to 'we bring freeeedom just by being there' then it's okay. It's not only okay, it upsets people when you point out that it might possibly be morally wrong.

Re:The almighty buck. (1)

seriesrover (867969) | more than 7 years ago | (#19492825)

So you've never bought anything that was made inChina? Because if you have that means you, Mr. AC, have given in to the "almighty buck" yourself. You don't like Yahoo censorship - perhaps your point will be better taken if posted non-AC and you don't censor who you are.

Re:The almighty buck. (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#19493417)

I buy locally products which are environmentally responsible and produced by local, non-monopolistic businesses whenever I get a chance. The trouble is, there are not enough of those to cover even a modest lifestyle. This is like saying that Chinese citizens who use search engines that censor results are voluntarily supporting their government's policy - true perhaps, but beyond ability of most people to stop. I would love mandatory labels such as "supports communism", "supports terrorists" and "made with child labor" on the approporiate products.

Re:What if they don't comply? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490881)

Yes, just as they would be out of business in Pakistan if they refused to turn over the identities of adulterous women so they could be stoned to death.

Communist over Capitalist (3, Insightful)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490489)

This is proof that communist power > capitalist power. Simply for the fact that US corporations always have to yield to money. The moment money can't fix a problem, they are stuck. Will google and yahoo be able to ever bribe the communist party enough? I doubt it. I feel bad for the Chinese citizens who are censored in the middle of all this.

Re:Communist over Capitalist... no (1)

drhamad (868567) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490565)

Well, I disagree with you there... because if it wasn't for the power of capitalism, American companies like Google and Yahoo! wouldn't exist, or wouldn't be strong enough, to even be over in China competing with Chinese companies. How many Chinese companies do you see in the US? Those that there are, are operating on a capitalist system.... another power of the capitalist system - you can't export communism (not using the cold war "export democracy" definition here, but rather that to be communist, your country must BE communist - you can't have a piece of your country operate in another under a different system). Further, every time an American company goes over there, we break down the barriers just a little more.

Re:Communist over Capitalist... no (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491143)

"Further, every time an American company goes over there, we break down the barriers just a little more.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA ; STOP IT! You're killing me.... :)

Foreign concerns have been doing business w/China for thousands of years, bud. Barriers down? Which ones...please tell me. England was here for hundreds of years - gold and silver came in by the ton and rice on English frigates...spices and porcelain want out the same way. Please point out any barrier you can that came down from that relationship - I'll wait.

China has all it needs in terms of material resources, for the foreseeable future - As an example, China is #4 trading partner for Russia...but Russia is #8 for China.

If you think 'we' are breaking down anything in China, I've got an Armani pure silk suit coat I just picked up in Shenzhen I know you're just gonna love!

rats (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491201)

gold and silver came in by the ton and rice on English

gold and silver came in by the ton on English frigates...rice, spices and porcelain want out the same way.

Re:Communist over Capitalist (1)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490621)

Will google and yahoo be able to ever bribe the communist party enough?

No — especially since our particular brand of Capitalism makes all bribery illegal — including that of foreign governments [wikipedia.org] .

Corporations are good at and are judged on making money. Aiding human rights is nowhere in the picture. Until the lawmakers pass some kind of FCPA-2.0 — which would outlaw cooperation with oppressing regimes the same way FCPA outlaws bribery — no corporation will shoot itself in the stomach by doing it alone.

I rarely call for new legislation, but Game Theory [wikipedia.org] strongly calls for this one... An excellent opportunity for the new Congress to distinguish itself — but, somehow, I'm sceptical.

Re:Communist over Capitalist (1)

HungWeiLo (250320) | more than 7 years ago | (#19492759)

When I was at both Weyerhaeuser and Honeywell, I had to sit through week-long corporate orientations for new employees. In both companies, it was explained that sometimes, a "gift" or "token contribution" is a widely accepted practice in some cultures and therefore part of doing business in such cultures. (i.e. it's OK - it's not _really_ bribery)

So no, the FCPA is practically on-paper only. Corporations obviously thumb their collective noses at it if they plainly justify it in their orientation PowerPoint slides.

Re:Communist over Capitalist (1)

mi (197448) | more than 7 years ago | (#19493737)

So no, the FCPA is practically on-paper only. Corporations obviously thumb their collective noses at it if they plainly justify it in their orientation PowerPoint slides.

It is all in comparision... Other Western countries don't have an FCPA-like law even on paper. And no, it is not an "on-paper only" law — there were and are prosecutions under the act. Here [steptoe.com] are some lawyers describing themselves as experts on defending against such prosecutions, for example...

Re:Communist over Capitalist (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491253)

It's not the censorship that troubles the people of China. It's the bill sent to your family, to pay for the bullet used to execute you. It's the forced abortions. It's the two years of torture in a disease-ridden prison camp without the benefit of an opportunity to face your accuser in an imparital court. It's the removal of your land and livelihood, without compensation. It's the gloating faces of the limosine riders who poison your water.

Re:Communist over Capitalist (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491713)

It's the forced abortions.

I agree with every other point you made. But I don't see what allowing China to overpopulate to the point they can't feed themselves and collapse into plague that rapidly spreads from China to every other part of the world would accomplish.

Re:Communist over Capitalist (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491387)

This is proof that communist power > capitalist power.

As Lenin put it, "The West will sell us the rope to hang them with."

Re:Communist over Capitalist (1)

12345Doug (706366) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491825)

I don't exactly understand how this is a communism over capitalism issue. It's simply the current laws of the environment that you are trying to operate in. It's similar to eBay's struggle in France over Nazi memorabilia. Now one could argue that France is definitely sliding toward socialism/communism, but regardless eBay cannot display Nazi memorabilia auctions to French based IP addresses. See the attached link for more information. http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-525752.html [zdnet.com] This is simply a similar issue. Yahoo, Google, et al must comply with local jurisdiction to stay in business. Another example is Gambling sites being illegal in the US. The only issue here is that the US hasn't taken the effort to block access to those sites from the US, yet.

Let me translate... (1)

superbus1929 (1069292) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490493)

Yahoo! is deeply concerned by efforts of some governments to restrict communication and control access to information. Yahoo! also firmly believes the continued presence and engagement of companies like Yahoo! in these markets is a powerful force in promoting openness and reform.

Translation: Yahoo will give a brief second's thought to the plight of the common person in China before diving back into their Money Bin, Scrooge McDuck style.

Disproportionate effect (2, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490519)

Let's face it, these rejections are driven by China. No, the government of China is not leaning on Google, Yahoo!, et. al., but is making it quite clear that the continued right to operate in China via Chinese web connections requires some... alterations. And because China is seen as such a lucrative market given its population size, non of these companies is willing to put itself in a position to be banned by the Chinese, ceding dominance of the market to its competitors.

I'll be most impressed if one of them decides to stand up and say "enough is enough". The fact is, the population of China is large, but they only comprise 1.3 billion of the 6+ billion people on the planet. A significant fraction, but not enough to justify turning their back on principle.

Re:Disproportionate effect (1)

moranar (632206) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490831)

> "The fact is, the population of China is large, but they only comprise 1.3 billion
> of the 6+ billion people on the planet. A significant fraction, but not enough to
> justify turning their back on principle."

Considering they are already competing for another fraction, and that the remaining fraction is mostly devoid of Internet access, I'd say China is pretty important to them.

I also posit that you haven't really imagined how many people are 1.3 billion.

Re:Disproportionate effect (1)

dash2 (155223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19492145)

What fraction would be enough to justify turning their back on principle?

Silly proposal (1)

drhamad (868567) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490523)

Yahoo! is going to conduct business in as many countries as it can, and to do so, it is going to comply with such laws as that country has. No other major company does any differently... just as Google didn't. To think that a company should say "no we're not going to participate in this MASSIVE market because we don't like the [moral] limits they place on us, which don't impact our financials at all," is silly. We should just let in house Chinese search engines take over that market? I think not. I'd rather have some American presence there, even if somewhat restricted, than none.

Ideals can't be silly. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19490603)

So in the fight between freedom and money you side with money. Nice. Well, at least you're clear about it. Not like you have a motto of "do no evil". Maybe "Do a little evil if it's good money in it"?

Re:Ideals can't be silly. (2, Insightful)

drhamad (868567) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490705)

I would love to see Y!, Google, etc be able to operate in China/etc with no restrictions. That's the ideal. But that's not the real world. In the real world, there's laws. You rely on those laws in the US or EU to restrict the use of your private data, for example. In China, they have a law that restricts the use of other information. Do I like it? No. But I'd rather we have our companies there, which have a vested interest in as little information restriction as possible, then just have a Chinese state-owned company that does not have any interest releasing anything.

Re:Silly proposal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19490693)

So if China started using Yahoo to round up and summarily execute dissidents, not just imprison and impoverish them, that would be okay because the company stands to make a buck? Come on! Even companies are composed of people, and people have consciences. We can choose to support this kind of totalitarian crap, nor not.

Re:Silly proposal (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491109)

No other major company does any differently... just as Google didn't.
I love that justification. Yahoo points at Google, Google points at Microsoft and Microsoft points at Yahoo. Each of them use the other to justify their actions, when in reality the cause is their own greed.

To think that a company should say "no we're not going to participate in this MASSIVE market because we don't like the [moral] limits they place on us, which don't impact our financials at all," is silly.
Well call me silly, because I believe should do the right thing over the legal thing.

Re:Silly proposal (1)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491147)

So what if there was a law saying that a company working in China must have its Board of Directors each rape a child every year. That would be ok right because they are complying with the laws of that country?

Re:Silly proposal (1)

z80kid (711852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491425)

> So what if there was a law saying that a company working in China must have its Board of Directors each rape a child every year.
> That would be ok right because they are complying with the laws of that country?


I think we have a new winner for most ridiculous analogy on slashdot.

But to answer it anyway....

A Chinese citizen on the board of a local (Chinese) division would either need to do it or go to prison.

An American would have to leave the country - since the Chinese law would force him to violate American law. We do have Federal laws dictating what you can do abroad, and you can be prosecuted here on your return.

Re:Silly proposal (1)

svendsen (1029716) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491541)

Sorry not ridiculous at all. The GP's point was if its law it must be done and yahoo is using that as its defense. Well what if in the future China makes some laws which either directly or indirectly kill people (oh wait they have some of those already). The company can either A) say well it's the law nothing we can do or B) say we value life over money and walk away. Since Yahoo has said money > anything else then any far out there analogy is fair game.

At that point the entire company (not just say the Chinese division) makes the call as how far it will sink to make the almighty buck.

Re:Silly proposal (1)

seriesrover (867969) | more than 7 years ago | (#19493205)

Sorry, it IS ridiculous - the grandparent is spot on. Censoring web pages to meet China legal requirements is not the same as forcing directors to rape a child each year. In Germany (or perhaps its France) Yahoo had to pull nazi gear off its auctions. Do you think they should stop operating in those countries? Every country has laws to some degree over what can and can't be said. Your arguement that they should pull out of a country based on censorship means that no company should exist at any time in any country.


The GPs point wasnt if its law it must be done - his point is that the choice infront of them is to abide by the censorship law or pull out. If the law was to rape a child then I'd have a high degree of confidence they would pull out. One will judge Yahoo on the decisions they make, not airy-fairy, hypothetical future decisions that they dont have to make.

What markets can and cannot do (4, Interesting)

Wubby (56755) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490539)

Is it just me, or is this the clear limitation of "markets"? Markets are great for things like pushing down cost, creating diversity of products (through competition), and distributing wealth (if not manipulated).

But when it comes to profit vs. principle, it seems to hit a wall. Is this the reason markets can't stop human trafficing and a gov't has to step in. Any of you collije edumacated E-conomists want to correct me here?

Re:What markets can and cannot do (1)

casings (257363) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490627)

They would, but they cheated their way through Business Ethics on the backs of the engineering majors.

Re:What markets can and cannot do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19490793)

Is this the reason markets can't stop human trafficing and a gov't has to step in
Very Easy, the market provides what the consumer wants...

Re:What markets can and cannot do (1)

Wubby (56755) | more than 7 years ago | (#19492227)

So, if consumers want something that is deemed immoral (sex slaves), or business owners (shareholders) want more profit, the market, by itself, is totally unable (or unwilling) to stop it. Government and extra-market forces (activists, watchdog groups, tree hugging hippies) are required to put controls on how that market operates in order to stop unwanted activity (slavery, monopoly) and promote it's better effects.

It's the ultimate in mob (not mafia) behavior.

Re:What markets can and cannot do (4, Interesting)

danpsmith (922127) | more than 7 years ago | (#19492089)

But when it comes to profit vs. principle, it seems to hit a wall. Is this the reason markets can't stop human trafficing and a gov't has to step in. Any of you collije edumacated E-conomists want to correct me here?

I'm not an economist, but this is why you can't have laissez faire capitalism to begin with. Letting the market take over human rights is precisely where the government should step in. To me if you are a multi-national corporation that operates and sells goods in the US, you should have to follow certain standards. Outsourcing should meet human rights standards, and any dealings in other companies should have to be held up to a standard. If given the choice between morality and money the corporation will always pick money as has been shown time and time again, the idea is that it's the government that has to force the corporation's hand in doing the "right thing."

Someone said it before and I'm probably misquoting them, but it comes down to I don't give a shit what the CEO of Ford thinks about emissions or his record on environmentalism, just like I don't give a shit what the CEO of Yahoo! thinks about human rights. I'm sure that some of these people are great people with great intentions, but regulation of the environment and human rights should be the government's job, because these things don't have pricetags, and the "free market" can't solve these problems. We shouldn't be expected to accept moral "handouts" from CEOs who decide that they will no longer do the wrong thing, we should be able to tell them to do the right thing, or quit doing business with us, without dollars and cents being the measurement.

Re:What markets can and cannot do (1)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | more than 7 years ago | (#19492433)

Free markets are just places to buy and sell things competitively.

If humans desire something, and other humans have it, it will be sold in a free market.

This does not impugn free markets or capitalism, only those humans and their desires.

Re:What markets can and cannot do (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19493523)

This does not impugn free markets or capitalism, only those humans and their desires.

God forbid anyone try to control those desires, then the free marketeers scream about regulation.

Re:What markets can and cannot do (1)

Wubby (56755) | more than 7 years ago | (#19493597)

Oh, I agree! What I was countering was the view that the market "can fix anything". Many of those who hold that view rant how government interference with the market is BAD(tm) and unrestrained markets are almost holy. Markets are tools, and can be used for positive or negative effects. Markets, being complex systems, can actually do both at the same time. At which point it's about perspective. Poor Guatamalan farm worker can't affort food after working 3000* hrs a week, while we get good, cheap bananas.

*slight exageration

Web search provides future economic growth? (1)

IndieKid (1061106) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490927)

At some point in China, the web is going to become much more important with regards to economic growth. If the major players like Google and Yahoo! did pull out of that market, it might eventually force China to rethink their 'great firewall' policy in order for them to compete on a level playing field with the more web-driven economies elsewhere - search and web driven advertising are pretty important to these economies.

Of course, Google et al are worried that pulling out would lead to competing technologies being developed in China free from their market presence, and they would quite like to hold on to their near-monopoly for obvious reasons.

I think I'd rather Yahoo stay true and get banned (1)

Sczi (1030288) | more than 7 years ago | (#19490975)

Yahoo, Google, etc, should stay true and operate at 100%, and if they get banned, then they become martyrs. It is loosely analogous to the Iraq war, how people say that you can't impose revolution on the people, they need to decide it for themselves, etc. If the Chinese get p.o.'d enough at the govt banning things, they'll eventually revolt, which would potentially be a good thing (good in the long run, potentially catastrophic in the short run, but that's life). Money may or may not be the root of all evil, but at minimum, it is a strong catalyst. The Chinese govt is wrong. Anyone who goes along with it is a little bit wrong themselves. I see the point that having some presence is better than no presence, but I am still 60/40 in favor of my above stated position.

Bill Lumbergh the CEO of Yahoo? (1, Funny)

d474 (695126) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491031)

Because they are obviously using this phrase as their guiding principle:

"Is this Good for the Company?"

This way, when ever Yahoo has to make a decision about human rights or censorship, they ask themselves, "Is this Good for the Company?"

Oh, and remember: next Friday... is Hawaiian shirt day. So, you know, if you want to, go ahead and wear a Hawaiian shirt and jeans.

Doomed to fail (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491033)

Most shareholders of large companies are institutional investors (e.g., mutual and hedge funds, banks, etc.) or executives/board members of the company. Any proposal that creates additional controversy or additional work for the company will generally be voted down by these shareholders, which explains why the anti-censorship proposal got only 15% voting in favor and the human rights committee proposal only got 4%.

Yes, I realize that censorship isn't a very controversial topic to you or me, but it is from the perspective of making money.

On a side note....

Hattie: I may only have one share of Planet Kajigger, but I get to vote same as anybody. And I'm voting against the cat hater!

Re:Doomed to fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19491685)

That's especially true in the case of Google, where Larry and Sergey between them hold more than 54% of voting power. It's less true for Yahoo!, which is more genuinely a public company. One thing I think is interesting about the anti-censorship proposal is that it's coming from institutional investors - namely, civil service pension funds. Those are the people we'd normally expect to vote down this kind of proposal. I think it's a sign that Internet censorship really is becoming important to a lot of people. Institutional investors do occasionally take stands beyond "we want to make lots of money"; for instance, many institutions won't invest in tobacco; and maybe censorship is finally gaining some of the same kind of status.

Dollars trump integrity (1)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491121)

See your business pages for examples. We no longer liberate people, we liberate markets. It's why the threat to oil in Iraq is met with guns and why almost 20 years after Tiananmen so many companies are moving into China. Lip service outrage is paid to things like harvesting Falun Gong prisoners organ because the market is safe for Wal-Mart and McDicks. Ditto that immolation of women is ignored in India (when they marry outside their caste etc) because it is a good market that can be moved into by companies. A few dissidents in China doing time or being executed is peanuts next to the profit to be made.

Re:Dollars trump integrity (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491337)

Indeed, I can't see how this can change, until a contrary incentive is provided. For example, were company boards subject to attrition to assassination, I think the picture would change very, very rapidly indeed.

Re:Dollars trump integrity (1)

z80kid (711852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491455)

And removing an American business from China would change this, right?

Re:Dollars trump integrity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19491721)

At least they wouldn't be contributing to the situation. But wait, you want your 25 dollar DVD player. I guess that makes it okay.

Digging through the doublespeak (1)

NereusRen (811533) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491423)

The shareholder proposal is worded in a much more straightforward way than the Board's response... no surprise there. The response, which is trying to convince other shareholders not to vote for the proposal, is chock full of weasel words that never promise to do anything, only to try to do it. As in "Oh well, we tried, better luck next time... *shrug*". However, the Board says a few things pretty clearly if you dig through the document. Here's some choice quotes:

Yahoo! believes private industry alone cannot effectively influence foreign government policies on issues like the free exchange of ideas and open access to information.


There is nothing other than private industry. Private industry is people, and influences other people.

These complicated issues require a detailed understanding of the Company's business (which is highly competitive and characterized by rapid change), user base and technologies, as well as an ability to conform to the various legal and regulatory systems of the countries in which the Company maintains operations.


i.e., "You are too stupid to make that kind of proposal. We know better than you." I'm not sure that sentence could be any more condescending.

Yahoo! also believes its existing policies appropriately recognize the different roles private industry and governments play with respect to the nature of the Internet and the flow of information.


Since Yahoo's current policy "recognizes" the role of private industry giving up the names of anonymous bloggers to totalitarian governments, apparently Yahoo believes that role is "appropriate."

Anyone wanna buy some YHOO cheap? (1)

Zaphod2016 (971897) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491737)

I for one am fed up with this company. I've been holding some YHOO since '97 (should have sold it all back in '00). If this company refuses to provide us with any significant gains, refuses to listen to shareholders, and continues to sell-out human rights for market share in China, I will be all too pleased to see it purged from my portfolio.

I would really love to sell these shares for a penny each, if only to tank the stock as hard as possible. I know this is a pipe dream, but I'm angry, and I feel betrayed by a company I've supported since their beginning.

Riddle me this: why would anyone want this stock [google.com] ? Ethics aside, why is YHOO a smart investment? Am I missing something?

Complicity in Crimes (1)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 7 years ago | (#19491885)

By setting up a business in a country that commits human rights violations, and then participating in them (e.g. turning over the names of dissidents when you know how political prisoners are treated), surely you can't just use the excuse that you are complying with local laws.

Re:Complicity in Crimes (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 7 years ago | (#19492347)

Happens in America, why not China?

Off target (1)

kristopher_d (1024113) | more than 7 years ago | (#19492067)

I think many folks are missing one fundamental point. We don't have to change corporations from the inside. We have to make it illegal for US companies to do business with morally reprehensible countries. In fact, they shouldn't be allowed to business with businesses or countries that do business with countries that don't conform to our ideal of human rights. "So, Mr. China, I understand you want to sell us cheap shoes. We'd love to buy them, but we can't unless you pay our minimum wage and cut out all this anti-free speech crap."

Re:Off target (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19492527)

We have to make it illegal for US companies to do business with morally reprehensible countries.

If you really do that, US companies won't be allowed to do business with the USA. Good idea, but I'm not holding my breath for it to happen.

Re:Off target (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19493131)

Yes. Because making shoes unaffordable to Americans with average income will go a long way towards fixing China.

Is this the companies' job ? (1)

Qwavel (733416) | more than 7 years ago | (#19492679)

We can't really expect individual companies to adopt these proposals. If these proposals have any real teeth, then they could cost the company money, and then the company will lose against competitors that don't adopt expensive do-gooder policies. Occasionally, such policies will be very high profile and the cost of the policy will be offset by the positive PR, but that is rare.

If it is really important for a company to do, or stop doing something, then perhaps the government should regulate it? I know that regulation is a bad word, but at least then it applies to all the companies evenly, so no company gets disadvantaged for its good behavior. Of course, they shouldn't create the regulation unless they plan to enforce it, otherwise we are back to the same place where the companies that ignore the regulation come out on top.

A true "dont be evil" company would make a killing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19493655)

If someone/some organization developed an online search and webmail service that was truly not evil (ie- don't store IP addresses for anything, delete email permenantly, etc), then they would have a lot of people using their service. It's easy to say no to the FBI if you don't have anything to give them in the first place. On top of that, this company should stay the hell out of any country that tries to censor them.

Why doesn't this exist? Or does it, and I just haven't heard of it.

Hmm... maybe it's time to start my own business. ;)

The moral of the story.... (1)

ChronoFish (948067) | more than 7 years ago | (#19493755)

Companies will only ever look out for #1 - and #1 is the company.

Whether it be "Do No Evil" Google, "Squash 'Em" Microsoft, or who-ever. No company can be trusted to look out for "you".

So stop being surprised when a company sells someone out. And be presently surprised when they don't.

-CF
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