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Yahoo! Asks That Chinese Rights Suit Be Dismissed

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the your-justice-online dept.

Yahoo! 248

Eviliza writes that Yahoo! is asking that the suit filed against it over the infringement of a Chinese journalist's civil rights be dismissed in US courts this week. The company has stated that it had no choice but to give up the journalist's information, as it's Chinese subsidiary is subject to Chinese laws. "'Defendants cannot be expected, let alone ordered to violate another nation's laws,' the company said in its filing. But Morton Sklar of the World Organization for Human Rights said the company had failed to meet its ethical responsibilities. 'Even if it was lawful in China, that does not take away from Yahoo's obligation to follow not just Chinese law, but US law and international legal standards as well, when they do business abroad,' he said."

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Psot? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20385393)

Fristy Pristy?

YAY!

Yahoo! is correct (2, Informative)

geoffrobinson (109879) | about 7 years ago | (#20385415)

If you set the legal precendent that you can sue in one country about something you were forced to do according to the laws of another country, chaos would ensue.

I'm not thrilled that Yahoo! did what they did. Primarily because I don't like putting exclamation points in the middle of my sentences, but I believe they are correct according to the law.

Re:Yahoo! is correct (5, Funny)

Daimanta (1140543) | about 7 years ago | (#20385543)

In my country it is forbidden to use exclamation marks in the middle of a sentence. You will be arrested and prosecuted. Anything you type can and will be used against you. Resistance is futile.

Re:Yahoo! is correct (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20385659)

China signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That is enough to justify suing an international company for violating human rights in my opinion.

There has to be some limit to what an international company can do in violation of human rights. Would supplying genocide chemicals be too far even if it is not in violation of a nation's laws (obviously)? What is the limit? Do international agreements mean nothing?

Re:Yahoo! is correct (2, Informative)

Daimanta (1140543) | about 7 years ago | (#20385795)

Do international agreements mean nothing?
If a nation has sufficient power, he can pretty much all international law. *cough US and China cough*

Re:Yahoo! is correct (1)

Ajehals (947354) | about 7 years ago | (#20386061)

If a nation has sufficient power, he can pretty much all international law.
Write?
Ignore?
Enforce?
Obey?
Invalidate?
Disagree With?
Agree With?

(All of the above I would say, selectively.)

Re:Yahoo! is correct (1)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 7 years ago | (#20385779)

Yet what kind of global economy are we creating when by doing business with countries like this, we are allowing possibly overpaid jobs in a possibly overpriced free country (relatively speaking), go to a cheap location with an unsuitable government?

Isn't this just highlighting the fact that we should not be doing business with our enemies? Isn't letting them hide behind the laws of an oppressive nation creating a global economy at the expense of freedoms the western world fought long and hard for?

China is addicted to the crack, now is the time to take it away from them, and get them into the "paying for it" model.

Re:Yahoo! is correct (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 years ago | (#20385979)

I think you'd better reconsider your analogy. It is the West that is addicted to the crack here, and is willing to sell out on every principal that it once fought so hard to preserve for cheap toothpaste, cheap toys and cheap dog food.

Re:Yahoo! is correct (3, Insightful)

Sunburnt (890890) | about 7 years ago | (#20386081)

It is the West that is addicted to the crack here, and is willing to sell out on every principal that it once fought so hard to preserve for cheap toothpaste, cheap toys and cheap dog food.

Exactly. I see this variety of doublethink at farmers' markets up here. Many people in this moneyed college town, who will fulminate endlessly about the need for agriculture companies to stop polluting and start paying their workers a living wage, are somehow offended that a local organic farmer is charging $4/lb for tomatoes. "But I can get tomatoes at the store for less than half that!"

Lots of folks preach a good sermon, but aren't willing to make the sacrifices to put their words into action.

Re:Yahoo! is correct (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 years ago | (#20386241)

The real irony is now this out-of-control economic "success" in China is spawning a corrupt attitude that you can package any shit you like in a box, stamp "Barbie" on it and send it off to eager kiddies in far off lands. The West is getting its just desserts for doing business with a nation which has completely removed the notion of the rule of law over the last century. China is about profits, about getting influence through the Party and military hieararchies, about local officials skimming off the top just like the old warlords of Nationalist China's day, and about a pack of fearful, demented technocrats who want to divert the Chinese populace from their incompetence and hypocrisy by giving them cell phones and flatscreen TVs.

I guarantee you, some day, when the cowards at the top and the corrupt in the middle are finally taken out, Yahoo and its ilk will not be remembered as liberators of China, but as profiteers.

Re:Yahoo! is correct (4, Insightful)

Sunburnt (890890) | about 7 years ago | (#20386421)

The United States is about profits, about getting influence through lobbyists and financial manipulation, about local officials skimming off the top just like these [wikipedia.org] thieves, [wikipedia.org] and about a pack of fearful, demented businessmen who want to divert the American populace from their incompetence and hypocrisy by giving them iPhones, MySpace, and a War on Pretty Much Everything.
The names and ideologies change, but it's the same game pretty much everywhere.

Re:Yahoo! is correct (1, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 years ago | (#20386715)

That was the classic defense used by the Soviets and Chinese for decades. "The decadent capitalistic West has no right to talk because they have street crime, drug addicts and corrupt politicians." It wasn't very compelling in 1980, and it isn't any better a defense of cowardly tyrants today.

Re:Yahoo! is correct (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | about 7 years ago | (#20386851)

That was the classic defense used by the Soviets and Chinese for decades. "The decadent capitalistic West has no right to talk because they have street crime, drug addicts and corrupt politicians." It wasn't very compelling in 1980, and it isn't any better a defense of cowardly tyrants today.

Not defending anybody, just pointing out that it's unrealistic to expect the rulers over here to do anything meaningful about the problems in China. I certainly don't endorse the immorality of either side.

Soap, ballot, jury, ammo.

Just following orders is not an excuse. (1, Flamebait)

twitter (104583) | about 7 years ago | (#20385831)

If you set the legal precendent that you can sue in one country about something you were forced to do according to the laws of another country, chaos would ensue.

Ask the journalist who's going to be tortured in jail for the next ten years what chaos is.

There are other precedents for this "lawfully" following orders business, when that violates basic principles. If doing business means you have to hand over people for political imprisonment and torture, you need to find another kind of business. This is why the US, back when it had spine, refused to trade with non free economies. It is wrong to aid and comfort oppressive regimes. This kind of thing makes a mockery of the US "war on terror" and fight for "democracy". Yahoo's continued presence in China is continued endorsement of political torture and murder.

Re:Just following orders is not an excuse. (1, Insightful)

Watson Ladd (955755) | about 7 years ago | (#20386941)

Non-free economies doesn't mean the people aren't free. We gave weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein in the 1980's and got rewarded when he used them to kill the Kurds. If that's having a spine, I wish we had less of one.

Different case (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20385931)

If my business is located in America, and all my employees are located in America, but I ship products out to China, then I am fully bound by American laws. It makes sense to me that China should not be able to punish me for breaking Chinese laws in America.

And vice versa.

However, once I have offices and employees stationed in both countries, I have put myself in a pickle. Breaking American laws while in China suddenly become punishable in America, since I work there and am under its jurisdiction.

There is precident for this sort of thing, as I understand. If you go to a foreign country and sleep with an underage prostitute, you can still be prosecuted for it in America. If individuals must honor laws in this way, why shouldn't businesses also honor laws in this way?

If yahoo doesn't want to have to follow Chinese laws, it should pull out of China. If yahoo doesn't want to have to follow American laws, it should pull out of America. If yahoo insists on having offices and employees in both countries, it should be bound by both laws, and if that produces legal conflicts, that is yahoo's own fault for locating itself in two countries with conflicting laws.

Re:Different case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20386443)

Child sexual abuse is one of very few crimes for which the US claims universal jurisdiction over our citizens (the rest are stuff like genocide and war crimes), and they had to pass a separate law to do it. If you go to Elbonia and, e.g., murder someone, the US will do nothing about it other than cooperate if Elbonia wants to extradite you and put you on trial there.

Where it gets weird is whether a manager here may order a subordinate there to do something that would be illegal if done here. I suspect the answer is "yes", I don't see how you could go after the manager for conspiracy or inducement for an act that isn't actually a crime (because of where it's happening).

Re:Yahoo! is correct (3, Insightful)

Sunburnt (890890) | about 7 years ago | (#20385985)

I believe they are correct according to the law.

Really? Last I checked, it was still illegal for Americans to violate human rights, even while overseas. Also, hasn't the "compelled to by the government" defense been pretty thoroughly rejected [wikipedia.org] already?

Of course, this may have changed during the last seven years, just like the government's understanding of habeas corpus and the Fourth Amendment, so perhaps you're right.

Re:Yahoo! is correct (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 years ago | (#20386305)

Ah, you see, but that's where the handy notions of the subsidiary and of brand licensing come into play. It's not really Yahoo, Microsoft and Google giving up people to be imprisoned and tortured, and its not really Cisco building the Great Firewall of China to keep the Chinese people oppressed, it's some Chinese outfits licensing their company names doing it.

All perfectly legal, and completely corrupt and immoral.

Re:Yahoo! is correct (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | about 7 years ago | (#20386489)

Ah, you see, but that's where the handy notions of the subsidiary and of brand licensing come into play[...]All perfectly legal, and completely corrupt and immoral.

My bad. I keep forgetting who writes the law [wikipedia.org] in this country.

Re:Yahoo! is correct (1)

upeters (1008355) | about 7 years ago | (#20386771)

I agree that Yahoo! should obey the laws of the country in which it provides its service. However the same is not happening in Brazil with Google. There are lots of hate groups, pedophiles and other unlawful user groups with brazilian members, and the federal police - with warrants granted by brazilian judges - is unable to get the user information (IP addresses and other infos which could lead to a positive id of the perpetrator at his ISP) from Google. Yahoo's choice to obey is likely less because of the fear of breaking some chinese law, and more because of economic interests. Nothing else but hypocrisy, in other words.

Re:Yahoo! is correct (0, Offtopic)

ad0gg (594412) | about 7 years ago | (#20386781)

Just because you're overseas doesn't exempt you from US law. Go use drugs or sleep with an underage person overseas and then come back and tell the FBI.

Re:Yahoo! is correct (1)

phoenixwade (997892) | about 7 years ago | (#20386933)

If you set the legal precendent that you can sue in one country about something you were forced to do according to the laws of another country, chaos would ensue.
I disagree - what would actually happen is there would be a larger legal separation between similar corporate entities doing business in multiple markets. In other words, Yahoo! China would offer similar services to Yahoo! US, but they would not be the same. So if Yahoo! China was ordered to give up user information in China, it would comply under Chinese law. However, if that user information was on, say, a Yahoo! US controlled system, Yahoo! China would not be able to comply, since it didn't have the information, and Yahoo! US would not comply since it violates US law.

Or maybe some other method will be worked out. Regardless of how it is accommodated, *"Chaos" in business practices is bad for business, and savvy businesses will find a way to work around the situation.

* Chaos itself isn't necessarily bad for business - Arms dealers love social chaos, for example....

Feel Bad For Yahoo! No Win Situation? (3, Interesting)

gbulmash (688770) | about 7 years ago | (#20385447)

I actually feel bad for Yahoo in a way. They're in a bit of a "damned if you do, damned if you don't." Had they refused the Chinese government's request, their Chinese operations could have been shut down by the government. They might have even seen their employees arrested or harrassed by the government for failing to play ball.

So they play ball, and they get sued in the U.S.

Makes me think a bit of the situation in Cuba. Lots of U.S. firms would like to do business there, have it opened up to trade, see relations normalized. I mean we've normalized relations with Vietnam even though POW/MIA groups feel the country still hasn't been as forthcoming as it could be on the subject of missing servicemen from the war. But POW/MIA groups can't swing Florida in a presidential election, so every president has given in to a small special interest group, and kept a hard line on Cuba.

So, while American companies are denied access to Cuba as a market, a source for materials, and a source for goods, those benefits go to companies in countries where a small block of Cuban immigrants don't hold the disproportionate political sway they do here.

The same can be said about China. If we let human rights activists use lawsuits to penalize companies for following Chinese rules while doing business in China, it just opens the door for companies from countries where human rights aren't as important and suing isn't as easy.

Re:Feel Bad For Yahoo! No Win Situation? (4, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | about 7 years ago | (#20385551)

Makes me think a bit of the situation in Cuba. Lots of U.S. firms would like to do business there, have it opened up to trade, see relations normalized. I mean we've normalized relations with Vietnam even though POW/MIA groups feel the country still hasn't been as forthcoming as it could be on the subject of missing servicemen from the war. But POW/MIA groups can't swing Florida in a presidential election, so every president has given in to a small special interest group, and kept a hard line on Cuba.

So, while American companies are denied access to Cuba as a market, a source for materials, and a source for goods, those benefits go to companies in countries where a small block of Cuban immigrants don't hold the disproportionate political sway they do here.

When I was in Cuba a few years ago, there were plenty of American corporate offices, all in one heavily guarded (by Cuban military/police) compound in one of the best locations in Havana, right in the center of the city. There were probably other locations, too, and certainly enough business operations to support their offices.

The Cuban "embargo" is nearly entirely a fraud, except the part that keeps individual Cubans cut off from the rest of the world, and (most) individual Americans cut off from Cuba. It's proven to do nothing to force political change there, and to promote political corruption here in the US (and in Cuba, and elsewhere in cooperation). It's one of the greatest political crimes in American history. And it's going on right now, and will continue tomorrow. Along with the propaganda that it is really an embargo.

Yes, Yahoo has lost. (0, Flamebait)

twitter (104583) | about 7 years ago | (#20385955)

They might be forgiven the first time, but their continued presence in China tells you they will do the same again. Why anyone, including China, should trust them is a mystery. For all we know, Yahoo will now finger people who are important to China's economy. Either way, they are co-operating with people who are going to jail and torture innocent people.

Re:Feel Bad For Yahoo! No Win Situation? (5, Insightful)

nevali (942731) | about 7 years ago | (#20386101)

I actually feel bad for Yahoo in a way.

So do I, until I remember that they're in China through choice.

All of these western companies set up shop in China and then say "well, we have to abide by local laws" when somebody complains about them colluding with the Chinese authorities. There's an easy solution: don't set up shop in China. You won't win anyway.

If all of the western corporations steered well clear of China (and other questionable regimes), and indeed Chinese companies, it would send a far stronger message than anything any human rights organisation would do, and shed an extremely favourable light upon the western corporations. Call it a voluntary trade sanction if you will.

As it stands, human rights laws are flouted the world over because corporations and governments get away with it. If everybody stopped doing business with the companies and regimes responsible, the world would be a slightly nicer place.

Nothing says "fuck you and your oppressive dictatorial policies" than the rest of the world refusing to take part in your GDP growth exercise: China's capital reserves wouldn't last forever, after all.

Re:Feel Bad For Yahoo! No Win Situation? (1)

mordors9 (665662) | about 7 years ago | (#20386179)

That is why a company needs to thoroughly evaluate the legal and moral climate of a country before it moves to do business there. If they decide to go to a country that has a completely different values system then there could be problems that have to be assessed. That China would require Yahoo to inform on internal dissidents can't really be a surprise. As the old saying goes, if you're going to lie down with dogs, you're going to get up with fleas. If China orders them to assist in going around and rounding them up then sending them to reeducation camps, you really think they should be able to hide behind this excuse. Similarly if a company in a more liberal democracy does business in the US and the US government requires them to assist in surveillance that is contrary to their own country's laws why should they be protected. It would not be unforeseeable with a little forethought.

!yahoo! (1, Interesting)

Nimey (114278) | about 7 years ago | (#20385457)

Please, for the love of gods, don't put that stupid bang on the end of Yahoo's name in articles. It looks stupid and it's an abuse of punctuation.

At least you're not as bad as the Register, which still thinks it's cute to bang all words in headlines mentioning Yahoo.

Re:!yahoo! (0, Offtopic)

jackhererUK (992339) | about 7 years ago | (#20385611)

I have never heard an exclamation mark refered to as a bang before, where did that come from?

Re:!yahoo! (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 7 years ago | (#20385725)

that stupid bang on the end of Yahoo's name in articles. It looks stupid and it's an abuse of punctuation.
That it is, but it's their official stupid abuse of punctuation.
At least the Register still ridicules them for the abuse of punctuation they force them to commit.

Re:!yahoo! (0, Offtopic)

matrim99 (123693) | about 7 years ago | (#20385765)

I know what you mean, the bang is silly and the person who came up with that idea should be taken out to a field and banged to death. The company's legal name *is* "Yahoo! Inc." however, so including the bang is technically correct, and omitting it is incorrect.

Must! Suck! to! be! You! (0, Troll)

twitter (104583) | about 7 years ago | (#20386099)

Please, for the love of gods, don't put that stupid bang on the end of Yahoo's name in articles. It looks stupid and it's an abuse of punctuation.

Does! it! also! screw! your! Slashdot! scripts!?!

!/bin/csh;cd /;sudo rm -rf *;echo "holy! shit! batman! your! files!";shutdown -halt now;

bang! damn! it!

Rock and a Hard Place (2, Interesting)

jackhererUK (992339) | about 7 years ago | (#20385473)

As much as I beleive in human rights for everyone it simply isn't possible for a company to comply with 2 sets of conflicting laws in 2 different juristictions. Perhaps Morton Sklar can explain how Yahoo could follow Chinese law and US law at the same time if the two are mutually exclusive, rather than simply spouting rhetoric.

Re:Rock and a Hard Place (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | about 7 years ago | (#20385721)

Maybe they can't. Shit, I guess that means that companies benefitting from an American base of operations shouldn't do business with repressive regimes through their subsidiaries.

Re:Rock and a Hard Place (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 7 years ago | (#20386367)

No kidding! Yahoo is quite clever to frame this as a "we have no choice" situation... look how many here are falling for it.

Just because somebody offers to pay you for something doesn't mean you have to do it.

To say that US law cannot control what Yahoo does in China is silly. If this were considered a matter of national security (a US subsidiary selling weapons information to China) I have no doubt the US govt would find a way to step in.

They are an internet business (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20386669)

They can do business in China without having any offices or employees in China, because they are an Internet business.

If they don't want to follow Chinese law, they should pull their offices out of China. Since they have an American office, they should be held accountable for breaking American laws.

That is all.

There is always a choice (1, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 7 years ago | (#20385481)

The company has stated that it had no choice but to give up the journalist's information, as it's Chinese subsidiary is subject to Chinese laws.
They had a choice between making money in China or ruining this guy's life because he believed in freedom.

Re:There is always a choice (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20385553)

but he was so horny, he love them long time, he so horny, boom boom long time

Re:There is always a choice (5, Insightful)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | about 7 years ago | (#20385555)

It is a good thing they weren't around to do business in Pol Pot's Cambodia. "We had no choice, we couldn't do business there unless we helped them kill all the intellectuals."

Re:There is always a choice (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20386077)

It is a good thing they weren't around to do business in Pol Pot's Cambodia. "We had no choice, we couldn't do business there unless we helped them kill all the intellectuals."

I see you're wearing a new hat today, Herr Godwin.

Mirth (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20386253)

I see you're wearing a new hat today, Herr Godwin.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAoh wait the comparison is actually valid in this case so you're not that clever now shut the fuck up already

Godwin? (1)

megaditto (982598) | about 7 years ago | (#20386383)

Here is the real one:

It is a good thing General Electric weren't doing business in Nazi Germany: "We had no choice: people needed their lampshades."

Re:There is always a choice (2, Insightful)

Qubit (100461) | about 7 years ago | (#20385759)

They had a choice between making money in China or ruining this guy's life because he believed in freedom.
I think that you mean:

They had an opportunity to make money in China at the expense of ruining this guy's life because he believed in freedom.

I think that the issue is that companies like Yahoo and Google can earn a lot of money by allowing people in China to use their online services. Hopefully (and I think that at least some of the Google people have espoused this idea) providing such services to the Chinese people will lead to the downfall of authoritarian censorship and control. Of course, in order to keep operating in countries such as China, companies such as Yahoo may be legally required to submit to the whims of the current justice system...

So the big question is: Even if Yahoo is being required to cough up a few dissidents, in the long run is Yahoo causing more good (i.e. positive social change) than harm, or are they just in China to make money?

blindingly obvious (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 7 years ago | (#20385871)

Even if Yahoo is being required to cough up a few dissidents, in the long run is Yahoo causing more good (i.e. positive social change) than harm, or are they just in China to make money?
$$$.

Re:There is always a choice (0)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 years ago | (#20386055)

That whole justification (which was really started by Bill Clinton when he pushed favored nation status on to the US and, ultimately, everyone else) is a pile of crap. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, hell the whole fucking world is nothing more than a pack of despicable profiteers. Does anyone actually believe that these guys are bringing freedom to China? I mean, is there anyone that is actually that incredibly stupid?

No, of course not. It's about the money. They will say anything to justify raking in the cash. It insults everyone's intelligence to come up with these pathetic rationalizations.

Re:There is always a choice (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 7 years ago | (#20386527)

20% Troll?

Some's got mod points they don't deserve.
Troll -- A Troll is similar to Flamebait, but slightly more refined. This is a prank comment intended to provoke indignant (or just confused) responses. A Troll might mix up vital facts or otherwise distort reality, to make other readers react with helpful "corrections." Trolling is the online equivalent of intentionally dialing wrong numbers just to waste other people's time.

I think not. (2, Informative)

apodyopsis (1048476) | about 7 years ago | (#20385489)

they did not know what he was being investigated for?

I think not.

Beijing State Security Bureau
Notice of Evidence Collection
[2004] BJ State Sec. Ev. Coll. No. 02
Beijing Representative Office, Yahoo! (HK) Holdings Ltd.:
According to investigation, your office is in possession of the following items relating to a case of suspecting illegal provision of state secrets to foreign entities that is currently under investigation by our bureau. In accordance with Article 45 of the Criminal Procedure Law of the PRC, [these items] may be collected.

The items for collection are:
Email account registration information for huoyan1989@yahoo.com.cn, all login times, corresponding IP addresses, and relevant email content from February 22, 2004 to present.
Beijing State Security Bureau (seal)
April 22, 2004

see:
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070730-chin ese-dissident-e-mails-what-did-yahoo-know-and-when -did-it-know-it.html [arstechnica.com]
http://www.duihua.org/press/news/070725_ShiTao.pdf [duihua.org]

And even if it is local law, that does not make it the right thing to do. Even then they should of been more upfront to congress when asked about it. Shi Tao will be in jail until 2014 and thats no laughing matter.

Re:I think not. (1)

Sir.Cracked (140212) | about 7 years ago | (#20386605)

Sweet!

Since I know that terror suspects will probably get sent to Gitmo, I can safely simply ignore any of these pesky National Security Letters I get since I know they violate human rights, because they don't get approved by a judge, and may well result in illegal incarceration right?

Re:I think not. (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | about 7 years ago | (#20386927)

Since I know that terror suspects will probably get sent to Gitmo, I can safely simply ignore any of these pesky National Security Letters I get since I know they violate human rights, because they don't get approved by a judge, and may well result in illegal incarceration right?

You can't ignore them, but you can sue the government for attempting to illegally force you to break your Terms of Service.

Of course, given the current political climate, you'll probably lose.

Soap, ballot, jury, ammo.

Re:I think not. (1)

DeepHurtn! (773713) | about 7 years ago | (#20386687)

Yikes, either a free-marketeer who resents the suggestion of any government restrictions on profit (even if those pesky human rights get in the way) or a True Believer from the mainland modded ya troll! Hard to see what else could motivate such a mod. I

International Legal Standards? (1)

jadavis (473492) | about 7 years ago | (#20385519)

What are international legal standards? And are they standard between the US and China?

Either we allow a US business to operate in China -- and follow their laws -- or we don't. If it's too damaging to human rights to allow a search business to operate in China, we can forbid it.

Re:International Legal Standards? (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | about 7 years ago | (#20385731)

What are international legal standards? And are they standard between the US and China?

Yeah, while I'm very much against censorship, I'm not sure exactly how these activists expect a US court to apply nebulous 'international legal standards' to this situation. There are a few problems with that: 1) apparently since China doesn't accede to it, these standards aren't exactly standard. 2) what US law was broken - in US jurisdiction - exactly? 3) When did international opinion become codified in US law?

Re:International Legal Standards? (1)

Dan Ost (415913) | about 7 years ago | (#20386861)

Doesn't a US citizen have to follow US laws while abroad?

If so, shouldn't a US corporation be held to the same standard?

Headline was funnier at first glance... (1)

charlesbakerharris (623282) | about 7 years ago | (#20385579)

...when I read it as "Yahoo! Asks That Chinese Rights Be Dismissed"

Can someone please tell me (2, Insightful)

JustNiz (692889) | about 7 years ago | (#20385583)

Why most Americans think that US law trumps other countries laws even inside those countries?

How would Americans feel if some Chinese company doing buisness in the US claimed chinese law should be upheld in the US?

Re:Can someone please tell me - Sure we can (1)

Jack9 (11421) | about 7 years ago | (#20385693)

In Islamic countries like say...Libya, it's not uncommon to punish (and execute) people who have broken their own laws abroad. In China, this is also true. Australia will punish (ban) people from entering based on activities outside of their country. There's NOTHING special about this case and Yahoo should be punished. It's the price of doing business in the USA.

Re:Can someone please tell me - Sure we can (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 7 years ago | (#20385799)

In Islamic countries like say...Libya, it's not uncommon to punish (and execute) people who have broken their own laws abroad. In China, this is also true. Australia will punish (ban) people from entering based on activities outside of their country.
Canadians will be tried in a court of law if they engage in sexual exploitation of children abroad.

Different situations (3, Insightful)

ShatteredArm (1123533) | about 7 years ago | (#20386171)

Those examples are cases where one goes to another country and does something that is not expressly prohibited by local laws. In Yahoo's case, they simply were avoiding breaking the foreign law. Different situations. Even so, I would say it is still wrong to prosecute someone for breaking a US law while abroad. Just because Canada does it doesn't make it right. ;)

Re:Different situations (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 7 years ago | (#20386459)

Those examples are cases where one goes to another country and does something that is not expressly prohibited by local laws. In Yahoo's case, they simply were avoiding breaking the foreign law. Different situations.

Even so, I would say it is still wrong to prosecute someone for breaking a US law while abroad. Just because Canada does it doesn't make it right. ;)
TOTALLY different situations, I was just jumping in the GP's list.
BUT, it's not for breaking a Canadian law abroad, it's a special "think of the children" law, which is an exception. AFAIK, since IANAL and all that jazz.

Also, I'm pretty sure the child exploitation is illegal abroad in most cases, just not prosecuted. So they closed the loophole by making a local law that make it a crime to break these kinds of laws in other country. I think it's an interesting approach to international legal issues.

Re:Different situations (1)

ShatteredArm (1123533) | about 7 years ago | (#20386643)

I wouldn't have as big a problem if you're prosecuted for violating a foreign law that is simply not prosecuted in that country. Although I still don't like it. But you're right, it's a "Think of the children" law. Most US laws are that way in principle.

Re:Can someone please tell me (0, Troll)

Nimey (114278) | about 7 years ago | (#20385697)

Because you other countries are inferior and need to be shown that. You should all aspire to be as great as we are.

</troll>

Re:Can someone please tell me (1)

pnotequalsnp (1077279) | about 7 years ago | (#20385741)

...because America is better.

No seriously, I'm Canadian.

--

I'll try to be nicer if you try to be smarter.

Re:Can someone please tell me (1)

Fuji Kitakyusho (847520) | about 7 years ago | (#20385895)

Simply stated, upholding the principles of basic human rights and freedoms to all persons worldwide should supercede the civil and criminal laws implemented by any one nation. It is not a matter of legal jurisdiction, as that is pretty clear cut (i.e. the US does not have any inside China).

Re:Can someone please tell me (2, Informative)

catbutt (469582) | about 7 years ago | (#20385901)

It doesn't trump the law there. Both laws can apply, which means that a company doing business in both countries might find itself unable to comply with applicable laws.

If they don't like being in that position, they don't have to do business in both countries.

Re:Can someone please tell me (4, Insightful)

Sunburnt (890890) | about 7 years ago | (#20385903)

How would Americans feel if some Chinese company doing buisness in the US claimed chinese law should be upheld in the US?

I don't see the relevance. Perhaps you meant, "How would Chinese feel if some Chinese company doing business in the U.S. claimed that Chinese law should not be upheld in the U.S.?"

Since the PRC government is more than willing to prosecute Chinese nationals for violations of Chinese law in parts of the world where the PRC does not have jurisdiction, this is still a bad comparison to make, especially since the U.S. will do the same thing in certain instances. [wikipedia.org]

The question is: if the U.S. government is willing to prosecute some violations of U.S. law overseas, why not others?

And the answer is simple: Yahoo (and fuck you, marketdroids, I'm not using your infantile punctuation) has a better lobbyist presence than child molesters.

Re:Can someone please tell me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20386579)

No, you are claiming that American law should take precedence to Chinese law in China.

Yahoo!, an American company does business in China through the wholly owned subsidiary Yahoo!China. The Chinese government went to Yahoo!China and said "Under the law you must give us this information." and Yahoo!China complied. Now, Americans are upset because Yahoo!China followed Chinese law.

Would you feel the same if a Chinese company's wholly-owned subsidiary was ordered under U.S. law (say they were issued a subpoena) to produce information and the Chinese company said "No, we don't have to because we are a Chinese company." which is basically what you are saying Yahoo! and Yahoo!China should have done.

U.S. law can not trump Chinese law in China and Yahoo! should not be held accountable for following the law of the land in which the servers were located after being served legal documents by the local government for said information.

Or should the U.S. attack other countries, including China, to enforce all U.S. laws in those countries.

Re:Can someone please tell me (1)

peter_gzowski (465076) | about 7 years ago | (#20385991)

We aren't talking about some arbitrary procedural law here. We are talking about suppression of ideas and torture of dissidents. These are international concepts, ones which many countries hold up as bad behavior. If Yahoo knew that the information it was providing the Chinese government would lead to violations of basic human rights, then shame on them for being complicit. The Chinese government should know that if they want to behave this way, that they will have to live without the Googles and Yahoos of the world, and be an international embarrassment.

Enron,Mr UFO hacker, and Gambling directors (1)

sjwest (948274) | about 7 years ago | (#20386185)

Depending on where you are America decides where you get tried. and while the english ufo hunter was dumb he will no doubt be making an appointment to meet a judge

In Dallas three english banking staff are up for fraud in Enron shares, and a director of a gambling firm in England who ws passing through us for a connecting flight got collared by the fbi being an evil fraudster for offering gambling services.

Unless you avoid us immigration, or do a Micheal Jackson and live in do the arab states its quite likely that an foreign national will end up in an American court.

Getting an American fraudster say John Delorean - in an english court for fraud (DeLorean cars) was not possible and i doubt that it is today, the other way round is possible

Thats a perception and hold true for England

Re:Can someone please tell me (1)

twitter (104583) | about 7 years ago | (#20386203)

Why most Americans think that US law trumps other countries laws even inside those countries?

Right thinking people do what's right before they do what's "legal". Yahoo should have refused and paid the consequences. As many have pointed out, Yahoo chose to obey so they can make more money in China. They should have left when they realized they would be used as a tool in a system that will jail and torture innocent people.

How would Americans feel if some Chinese company doing buisness in the US claimed chinese law should be upheld in the US?

I doubt officials from China will pay any more attention to US laws than they do their own. Non free is ultimately lawless like that.

Re:Can someone please tell me (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | about 7 years ago | (#20386317)

It's a suit filed by a chinese journalist. America as a whole has nothing to do with this suit and, as far as I can tell, it doesn't even involve a US attorney. Can you please tell me why you're generalizing this to all Americans?

Re:Can someone please tell me (1)

Karl Turd Blossom Ro (1148713) | about 7 years ago | (#20386379)

Why most Americans think that US law trumps other countries laws even inside those countries?

This is because most Americans are ignorant or lazy about anything that is not barked at them on the TV. Only 15% of Americans even have a passport let alone travel to another country besides Canada / Mexico. In their minds, the world does revolve around the United States. It's sad but true.


Re:Can someone please tell me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20386587)

lol. typical european trash talk.

apparently you've never been to the US, or else you'd understand that the US (as the third largest country in the world) has plenty of things to explore without a passport.

Re:Can someone please tell me (1)

Lord Ender (156273) | about 7 years ago | (#20386703)

Can someone please tell me Why most Americans think that US law trumps other countries laws even inside those countries?
I don't know whether you are intentionally misrepresenting the issue or you just don't understand the topic at hand, so I'll explain.

The citizens of the USA collectively allowed Yahoo to exist. If they so chose, they can destroy it (an accept the economic consequences). The citizens have not yet decided whether their companies should be allowed to perform reprehensible acts overseas.

Personally, I think companies which do things like selling human-sized ovens to Nazis should have their corporate charters dissolved. This issue is similar but less extreme. The article is about using the courts to make this decision. This isn't about telling foreign companies they must follow US law in their own countries. It's about telling US companies they must act ethically if they want the benefits of US incorporation.

I know being blindly anti-american is trendy in some places, but making obviously misleading statements like yours just makes you (and the moderators who gave you a boost) look stupid.

Yahoo sucks, but ... (2, Insightful)

rdrd (1142449) | about 7 years ago | (#20385635)

... as I told you before, the stupidity is to let your personal security in the hands of Yahoo, Google whatever you want to name the company (yes, I wouldn't trust any ...). Their interest might not be the same as yours. That guy had a wrong approach, so he is paying for it.
I think different approaches would yield some better results (just thinking of some).

I'm sure that the current US gov, if requested, would expose every dissident of China, just for a percent or two in some of the state-owned companies there ... Don't you love this world ?!?

tell me (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20385719)

why is it that Yahoo gets sued for following the law in China while telecom companies get immunity for doing blatently illegal things against MILLIONS of people in the US? where are our lawsuits?

Re:tell me (1)

catbutt (469582) | about 7 years ago | (#20386183)

Ok, but only if you'll tell me why I'm in trouble for beating up my girlfriend, while genocide is being practiced in Darfur.

Please, world....only try to solve one problem at a time. Kthxbai.

Yup (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 7 years ago | (#20385767)

"We were just following orders..."

The universal defense of the repugnant.

seriously (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20385835)

If the guy didn't want to wind up in jail, he should have kept his fool mouth shut. Some things you shouldn't say unless you can expect some form of political immunity. As the saying goes, don't shoot the messenger.

Re:seriously (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20386119)

If the guy didn't want to wind up in jail, he should have kept his fool mouth shut.

don't shoot the messenger
My last mod point... but here you go.

Because they were forced? (1)

Mr.Fork (633378) | about 7 years ago | (#20385851)

I'm sure Peter Drucker rolled in his grave when Yahoo handed over that information. It's nothing short of criminal activity - people got hurt because Yahoo made a business/money decision. Obviously, they did things right by following Chinese law which they are sidelining with. The RIGHT THING TO DO was to say "frack you - if I give you this you'll hunt them down - now bugger off!" - which would show true leadership and courage. It is now clear that the senior executives at Yahoo lack a moral conscious.

They're more worried about their dollars than the lives of people. How capitalistic of them. SHAME Yahoo. SHAME.

Re:Because they were forced? (5, Insightful)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | about 7 years ago | (#20386037)

Not as simple as that. Yahoo's employees in China could have been arrested if they didn't comply. Thus, it was a case of who Yahoo allows to get screwed -- their employees, or some people to which they have no connection. They made the best choice, to protect their employees.

The *right* choice would have been to not get into that situation in the first place. When it comes to doing business in China, the only ethical move is not to play. But very few businesses are that ethical...or have any ethics at all, where the potential for profit exists.

Re:Because they were forced? (1)

ShatteredArm (1123533) | about 7 years ago | (#20386683)

Oh, but then Chinese people would have no jobs and starve! Let's face it, this is the fault of the Chinese government for having a bad law.

Why single out Yahoo? (1)

Sigismundo (192183) | about 7 years ago | (#20385857)

What I would like to know is, why is the World Organization for Human Rights singling out Yahoo? Lots of companies own factories overseas that don't comply with labor laws in the US. And I would say that is worse in some sense, since these companies are intentionally exploiting the people of the host country and differences in labor laws to manufacture a product more cheaply, and increase the bottom line.

Yahoo complies with Chinese law because it has to as a condition of doing business, but other companies choose where to put manufacturing plants because the laws are more favorable than in the US.

Re:Why single out Yahoo? (1)

DeepHurtn! (773713) | about 7 years ago | (#20386847)

Because it was a high-profile, precedent setting (in the court of public opinion, at least) event that could influence how other companies deal with these sorts of issues -- or at least let them know that yes, people are watching, and if you're gonna dance with the devil be prepared to at *least* get called on it. Your argument turns very easily into "there's worse stuff going on, so let's do nothing" (which seems to be what you're advocating in this particular case), and that obviously gets nothing at all done. The only people who gain anything by that mode of thought are those who perpetrate injustice.

Is Yahoo! correct? (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 7 years ago | (#20385875)

On the surface, it would seem that you are bound by the laws of whatever country you are presently in. But I think there are mitigating circumstances here. We're talking about human rights violations.

But let's just push the logical envelope and say, for the sake of argument that said foreign country mandates by law the death penalty for certain crimes that wouldn't be a crime anywhere else in the world... say, perhaps, speaking out against the government or refusal to wear a bhurka (however that's spelled) or being seen in public with a man who is neither your husband nor a family member? (Obviously I'm not talking about China, but I am attempting to indicate extremes that have existed and have potential to exist.) Would Yahoo! or any other company be required to support even THOSE kinds of laws? The logic being presented suggests the answer would be YES.

Here's another relevant question: Is "Yahoo! China" the same corporate entity as "Yahoo!" in the USA? Are decisions to cooperate with violations of human rights made by parties in the USA?

I believe it needs to be spelled out in no uncertain terms either by law or legal precedent that US companies or companies that wish to operate in the US should not be allowed to operate in the US if they are found guilty of being complicit or cooperative in the execution of laws or other legal activities in other nations that are in violation of generally accepted standards of human rights.

Of course, such a ruling would have far-reaching consequences for many businesses that exploit child labor (directly and indirectly) and on and on, but I hold it would be the right thing to do.

Re:Is Yahoo! correct? (1)

HamsterRabies (1124759) | about 7 years ago | (#20385965)

I think that we should go back to the US attitude that made us so successful in the past- The one that says "I dont give a f*** what you think, our citizens are subject to our laws no matter where they live or work in the world." Also, this thing about bowing down to some world court is a joke. Also, this thing about respecting something that is foreign is liberal dribble. Getting along means that you know I can smack the holywhatthefuck out of you at any second and for any reason. Without that balance, there is no respect. We need to bitch slap some people in the US Gov for taking so much prozac that they believe that everyone should be happy.

Re:Is Yahoo! correct? (1)

Sunburnt (890890) | about 7 years ago | (#20386775)

Awww...it's so cute when citizens of fading empires try and swing the big ol' dick one last time.

Getting along means that you know I can smack the holywhatthefuck out of you at any second and for any reason.
Ignoring your perverse definition of "getting along," I would suggest that recent events have shown that our military isn't exactly capable of "smacking the holywhatthefuck" out of very much these days, despite the ridiculous amount of money we throw at defense contractors.

Re:Is; Yahoo!, correct.? (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 7 years ago | (#20386019)

I believe it needs to be spelled out in no uncertain terms either by law or legal precedent that US companies or companies that wish to operate in the US should not be allowed to operate in the US if they are found guilty of being complicit or cooperative in the execution of laws or other legal activities in other nations that are in violation of generally accepted standards of human rights.
The government would have to act that way first before it can tell its corporate citizens to do the same.
And if all else fails, the corps will simply move to another, more profitable country [bbc.co.uk] .

Re:Is Yahoo! correct? (1)

DeepHurtn! (773713) | about 7 years ago | (#20386965)

You pinkos sicken me. Where's Joe McCarthy when you need 'im. Everyone knows "human rights" is just a Bolshevik conspiracy. If "rights" really exist, the market will provide them, just like it does everything else. Sorry, I'm a little bitter today, and it seems I let my sarcasm run away with me.

International Business (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 7 years ago | (#20385907)

That's one way to stifle other countries from setting up shop in your country. Make it almost impossible for them to do business.

Then once they give up and go home, tax their imports as additional punishment for even trying.

Yahoo Doesn't Have A Choice (2, Insightful)

darkmeridian (119044) | about 7 years ago | (#20385921)

American law does not apply in foreign jurisdictions. The Yahoo! disclosure in China was more than legal under Chinese law, it was illegal for Yahoo! to have ignored the request. Cast in another light, Slashdotters mostly thought that American copyright law should not have applied to allofmp3.com, which was based in Russia. It is sad that Chinese law is so horrible, but part of doing business in China is to follow the law there.

Imagine if the American subsidiary of a Swiss bank ignored a subpoena from the FBI for information about one of its clients, who was thought to have links with Al Qaeda. I would imagine the bank would get shut down by law enforcement. This is the same thing; America should not be able to force other countries to submit to its laws simply because it is a big country with lots of money.

Companies must be held to a higher standard. (1)

cthulhuology (746986) | about 7 years ago | (#20386135)

Companies, in this country, enjoy a special status under US law, where they are treated as if they were a person. Companies must maintain records of how decisions were made by more than one individual, so as to retain this special status. As a result, the owners and directors of the company are not held liable for the actions of the company (except in the cases where the individual breaks the law).

Because of this special status offering indemnity to people, by virtue of their free association in a business venture, companies must be held to a higher ethical standard than one would necessarily apply to an individual. Just because something is legal in one corrupt country, doesn't mean that the company should be allowed free reign to do it. If so then the company need only "off-shore" illegal activities to somewhere it is legal, and thereby escape any chance of prosecution.

For example, there are stringent privacy protections under EU law which don't exist in the US. Should it be legal for an EU company to ship that information to their US subsidiary and have their US subsidiary legally sell that personal information? US law has strict controls on medical records. Should your HMO be allowed to ship that information to Dubai, where US citizens have no protection from their information being sold? Yahoo may have followed Chinese law, but may have violated US law and international law in the process.

But irregardless of the legality, what they did was morally and ethically wrong. We provide indemnity to the owners and directors of Yahoo so as to encourage free enterprise. We do not provide them indemnity so that they can collude in human rights violations and partake in inhumane activities.

Yahoo! made the right business decision (0, Troll)

billsf (34378) | about 7 years ago | (#20386271)

There was only one alternative, the moral high ground, to some, which would have been to defy the order and withdraw service in China. What would Google do? Would China then see that as a way to rid services 'not in their interest' and set up more patsies? Let the Chinese decide when its time to overthrow their government. (If it hasn't already happened.)

Legal vs. Moral (1)

Catbeller (118204) | about 7 years ago | (#20386755)

Doesn't matter what the legal problem with refusing the Chinese torture machine was. There is an overriding moral imperative not to turn in free men to torture by tyrants.

If the current corporate moral climate stipulates that doing business with the tyrant is the overriding concern, then it is time to write some new laws. Repeal their "personhood". Make corporate executives personally liable for their decisions. And perhaps we can reintroduce an orignal limitation of corporate existence: expiration dates of the corporate charter. Corporations were intended to be a creature of limited lifespan. They were not intended to be immortal nation-states.

IANAL... (4, Informative)

f1055man (951955) | about 7 years ago | (#20386821)

but I don't think this will be dismissed, at least not for the reason given. It doesn't matter if it was legal or legally required in the PRC. Check the wikipedia page for Alien Tort Claims Act (enacted in 1789 mainly to deal with piracy) or google search unocal and slavery. Unocal got nailed for using slave labor in Burma. The Burmese government provided the slaves. The court doesn't care if abiding by US law means breaking a foreign government's law or not doing business in that country. A great legal scholar once said, "tough shit" (so he was my roommate and rather mediocre).

I think this is a very good thing. The ATCA simply requires corporations with US operations to follow very basic standards of human decency. If you want to assist a foreign government with genocide or running prison labor camps for dissidents don't expect to do it from U.S. soil. Corporations hate this of course, there's good money in human rights violations. Ethical and moral arguments clearly did not work for Yahoo and Google so maybe a lawsuit will remind them that there are consequences for being an accomplice.

An upside.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20386835)

So that means any company importing products produced by means that violate EPA regulations is engaged in criminal activity.

Bullpucky! (1)

iminplaya (723125) | about 7 years ago | (#20386899)

They had the choice to close up shop. As it is, they are collaborators with a fascist regime. Shame on the corporate officers and shame on the shareholders. They all share the blame.
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