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Congressional Commitee Rips Yahoo Execs

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the morals-of-a-corporation dept.

Yahoo! 293

A number of readers sent word of the hearing by the US House Foreign Affairs Committee in which committee members raked two Yahoo execs over the coals. "While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies," the committee chairman Tom Lantos, D-Calif., said angrily after hearing from Jerry Yang and Michael Callahan about Yahoo's actions that resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of a Chinese dissident. In 2004 Yahoo turned over information about journalist Shi Tao's online activities requested by Chinese authorities. In Feb. 2006, Yahoo's General Counsel Callahan testified that he had not known the nature of the investigation the authorities were conducting. He later learned that several employees of Yahoo China were aware at the time that the investigation involved "state secrets," but Callahan did not go back to Congress to amend his testimony. Committee members were withering in their disdain for Yahoo's refusal to help Shi Tao's family after his arrest.

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PKB (5, Insightful)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260791)

Isn't that like the pot calling the kettle black?

Re:PKB (3, Funny)

Elemenope (905108) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260835)

No, it's more like the howitzer calling the derringer a gun.

Re:PKB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21260841)

I was just going there...

Re:PKB (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21260865)

I wondered the same thing.. I'm not a fan (or foe) of Lantos. But his record seems to be pretty consistent on China [ontheissues.org] . I don't know about the rest of the committee. Congress as a whole, yes, definite PKB.

Re:PKB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21260877)

> Isn't that like the pot calling the kettle black?

More like the pot calling the black hole at the center of the galaxy black.

Re:PKB (2, Insightful)

entropiccanuck (854472) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260917)

Yes, but it's so much easier, never mind more comfortable, to lambast the flaws in others than recognize and correct your own failings.

Re:PKB (3, Informative)

rtyhurst (460717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261291)

From the article:

"Shi Tao was sent to jail for 10 years for engaging in pro-democracy efforts deemed subversive after Yahoo turned over information about his online activities requested by Chinese authorities."

Guy gets 10 years for *having an opinion*?

What happened to "YRO"?

What's the Chinese government going to do if Yahoo! doesn't roll over and rat out Shi Tao?

Put the website in jail?

What a bunch of belly-crawling cowards...

There's no excuse for this.

Re:PKB (3, Funny)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261551)

Step 1. Yahoo refuses to cooperate w/Chinese authorities.
Step 2. Yahoo get blocked by the Great Firewall of China Step 3. ???? Step 4. No Profit from advertisements.

Re:PKB (1)

Associate (317603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261043)

Shouldn't there be a Pot/Kettle tag?

Re:PKB (4, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261157)

Enough of the fucking "pot-kettle-black" shit. Do the failings of the US Congress make the actions of Yahoo any less reprehensible? No? Then shut up.

Re:PKB (5, Insightful)

joebagodonuts (561066) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261607)

Oh please. This isn't about the reprehensibility of Yahoo's actions. This is about Congress being hypocritical. Neither party gives a hoot about the journalist getting jailed.

The irony here is that Yahoo's simply following the leadership that our elected leaders demonstrate. If our leaders have a problem with what's going on, they might want to look at how they are leading this nation, rather than hold disingenuous hearings.

So - the kettle/pot comments are appropriate considering the subject matter. And before you go much further condemning Yahoo - Check your belongings. How much of it says "Made in China"?

Re:PKB (5, Insightful)

StevisF (218566) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261699)

I don't really expect any level of ethical behavior from corporations. Corporations have two goals: increase the price of their stock and produce dividends for investors. To that end, they may accidentially or perhaps even intentionally act ethically, but it's certainly not to be expected. I do, however, expect the government to provide sufficient oversight of corporations.

I think what people are expressing is that the Congress should not expect ethical behavior from corporations when their actions have been ethically questionable and it's their job to regulate the corporations. Clearly in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, congress has allowed privacy and human rights to fall by the wayside worldwide.

Re:PKB (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261773)

Do the failings of the US Congress make the actions of Yahoo any less reprehensible?

yes, yes they do by a long way.

Every single senator and representative should be completely ashamed of themselves for the rampant crap they pull every single day in Washington DC.

Even just the damage done tot he USA with the patriot act covers it. I'm not even talking about the other stuff that makes the rest of the world gasp in disgust at us.

Re:PKB (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261441)

It's perfectly okay for the pot to call the kettle black on a children's show talking about colors, or the lack of them. There are plenty of situations where hypocrisy is hardly detestable.

When someone calls you a dirty, no good bastard, the last thing to say in your defense is "well, you're almost as bad."

Re:PKB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261627)

Is it? Do you, personally, have some information that indicates that the Chinese government can call up anyone in our government or its agencies to get specific information about Chinese nationals who are engaged in pro-Democracy or anti-government activities?

I didn't think so...

Get back under your bridge!

Re:PKB (2, Funny)

gregraven (574513) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261675)

If Tom Lantos' morals turned to gasoline, there wouldn't be enough of it to power a piss-ant's go-cart around the inside of a Cheerio.

Lantos Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261685)

Warmongerer Lantos is responsible for the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians. I would have loved to be there and confront this bastard.

Re:PKB (4, Interesting)

The Analog Kid (565327) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261693)

Tu quoque [wikipedia.org]

Just because a congressman might be hypocritical, doesn't make their arguments any less valid.

statism alert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261753)

I am frankly astonished that a self-labelled libertarian would be against Yahoo here. The fact is, they are doing what it takes to make money, and having the GOVERNMENT step in and interfere with that fundamental right goes against everything a good objectivist should stand for.

Hmm (5, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260799)

I wonder will these politicians be as robust in their denunciation of China's human rights record the next time a Chinese trade delegation pays them a visit.

Re:Hmm (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21260853)

Indeed .. isn't Yahoo's only obligation to increase shareholder value within the constraints of the laws of the countries in which it does business ?

Yahoo is not required to apply any 'moral' standards - whose morals should they use ? ... Yahoo management's morals ? ... shareholder's morals ? ... politician's morals ? ...

Re:Hmm (5, Interesting)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261049)

So if that's the beginning and end of corporate responsibility, then clearly IBM was quite right to help the Nazis exterminate Jews, Gypsies and other undesirables. Good to know that corporations doing business abroad shouldn't be held to any level of basic responsibility for human rights and human dignity, and should be nothing more than money making machines directing funds for any ol' human abusing shit hole to Western investors.

Bring on the blood diamonds! Who the fuck cares who gets abused! Money is the only thing worth consideration.

Re:Hmm (1)

Heembo (916647) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261173)

corporate responsibility
What the heck are you talking about? Corporations are entities with the sole originating purpose was to protect owners from responsibility. Homework for you: http://www.thecorporation.com/ [thecorporation.com]

Re:Hmm (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261215)

I'm well aware of what corporations are. Perhaps if we stripped them of that little bit of corporate personhood, so that when a family member of a Chinese dissident goes and names every shareholder in Yahoo in a lawsuit, we might see a change in behavior. I'd wager even a meaningful threat by Congress on that grounds would cause a rather big change in the way corporations with foreign dummy companies for pipelining foreign cash to domestic investors behaved.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261257)

Yes. Until such time as your whining turns into changes to the charters of public companies they should maximize shareholder value while abiding by the laws of the countries they do business in, even if you find it morally reprehensible. Do you think it's difficult to see the gaping loophole that underlies corporations, and that we all fail to see it?

Corporations aren't optionally amoral, they are necessarily so. If the shareholders of a company find that you are not doing everything possible within the law to maximize their investment they can sue you. So maybe your problem is with the Congress that sits around trying to score populism points by flaming Yahoo for following the law of the land, while using the same mouth to suck Chinese cock, and taking it up the ass from an administration that has illegally spied on U.S. citizens, tortured kidnapped foreign nationals, and completely destabilized Iraq in a war of aggression.

Perhaps it's time to redefine the nature of U.S. competitiveness by making restrictions that would have the officers of AT&T in the same prison as the officers of Yahoo, eh?

Re:Hmm (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261311)

I'm not saying the US is right. But tell me, do you think it was right that IBM was selling Hollerith machines to the Nazis? Sure, the Chinese government, by and large, isn't killing people using Western technologies, but it's using them for it's Great Firewall, and it's demanding that companies whose head offices are in the US collude with them in oppression. If De Beers can be taken to task for fueling the blood diamond trade in Africa, then I think Yahoo has to answer for its actions. Why should we care about Yahoo's shareholders any more than Yahoo's shareholders care about Chinese dissidents?

Re:Hmm (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261547)

No, I think it was completely fucked up. I think a lot of how we do things is completely messed up. I don't think it should have ever been the business of any civilization that curbed the excesses of industrialization to do business amorally. I just object to the charade perpetrated by a neocon hypocrite that lambastes Europeans for not partaking in the U.S.'s sticking of its toes into the water of becoming China, while a cadre of Democrats berate individuals for doing exactly what has been demanded of them by law.

They aren't doing it to change anything, they're doing it for show. The Congress has been instrumental in letting the U.S. become China's bitch since Nixon began relations with China. We need to put the boot on the neck of Congress to do something other than tell us what we already know in hopes that it will entice us to vote for them.

It's hard to imagine anyone but laissez-faire crackheads actually looking at the amoral structure of corporations and thinking it's for the best. The drugs are powerful in Libertopia.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261613)

If the shareholders of a company find that you are not doing everything possible within the law to maximize their investment they can sue you.

Strictly speaking, you can sue just about anyone for just about anything but I assume that you meant "sue and then actually win the lawsuit". In that case, I'm deeply skeptical that you're correct.

Can you cite any actual examples of successful lawsuits for simply "failing to maximize profit"? There are plenty of successful lawsuits for failing to properly disclose information to shareholders. There are even successful lawsuits for gross misconduct on the part of management - but "failing to maximize profit": I'm deeply skeptical that such lawsuits have been won.

Re:Hmm (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261673)

by flaming Yahoo for following the law of the land, while using the same mouth to suck Chinese cock, and taking it up the ass from an administration that has illegally spied on U.S. citizens, tortured kidnapped foreign nationals, and completely destabilized Iraq in a war of aggression.

flaming Chiinese cock in mouth, while taking it up the ass from a sadist. Me likey, me likey! Subscribe!!1!11

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261325)

On word. Halliburton.

Re:Hmm (1, Flamebait)

jaxtherat (1165473) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261563)

Bring on the blood diamonds! Who the fuck cares who gets abused! Money is the only thing worth consideration.


Welcome to modern capitalism: people = shit

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261119)

...isn't Yahoo's only obligation to increase shareholder value...

For that matter, does Yahoo (or, more precisely, Yahoo's top management) have any obligations at all?

The basic idea with a publicly traded company is that the management do what ever they want but if the stockholders don't like it the stockholders can vote in new management. In practice, many of the stockholders may want Yahoo to increase shareholder value but even then there's no obligation. At best, the threat of being replaced by a stockholder vote will merely create a (mild) incentive for the management to pursue policies that are favored by the stockholders.

Re:Hmm (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261207)

You raise a valid issue. If Yahoo's actions in China did not violate any US laws, then clearly we need to change our laws. We can't control the actions of companies all over the world, but we can certainly decide who may incorporate and conduct business here at home.

Re:Hmm (4, Insightful)

kithrup (778358) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261391)

So we should make it illegal for Yahoo! to do in China what we make it illegal for them to not do here?

While I agree that the Chinese government is very much not nice, the same Congress that is chastising -- and threatening punishment -- Yahoo! executives is the same Congress that allowed damned near any government employee to demand the same information about any Yahoo! customer, in the United States, without a warrant, and prohibiting Yahoo! from telling anyone about it.

Every government in the world may operate by "Do what we say, not what we do," but it's still sickening to hear someone complaining about how awful it was that a Chinese citizen was imprisoned and tortured, yet know that that same someone has refused to do anything to stop American citizens from being imprisoned and tortured.

Human rights are for everyone, not just for foreigners.

Re:Hmm (4, Interesting)

metlin (258108) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261707)

How about upholding basic human rights [un.org] as put forward in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [wikipedia.org] charter of the UN?

Would that work for you, Mr. Philosopher, because you seem more interested in the moral relativism of something rather than the fact that it violates some fundamental precepts of human dignity?

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261767)

Not only is it their only obligation to maximize profits, but they are legally required to. If they hadn't, they would be subject to lawsuits in the US for not acting in shareholders' interests. CEOs do not generally have a choice - they legally must do whatever they can to make a profit, or else be personally sued to hell.

Now, why doesn't Congress make a law saying that corporate executives are immune to lawsuits when the board decides something is a moral outrage? That would be actually productive. Of course, then some boards would claim paying taxes to Democrats are a moral outrage, selling to companies that produce medical equipment for abortions is a moral outrage, etc. This is why I am not a lawyer.

Re:Hmm (2, Insightful)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261769)

>isn't Yahoo's only obligation to increase shareholder value within the constraints of the laws of the countries in which it does business ?

Even if you take this extreme, then Yahoo! still did the wrong action.

This whole hearing is bad for Yahoo!; weak management who didn't have the full story on something this big, bad publicity in non-China far-east Asia, bad publicity in the tech community around the world, potential new legal regulations in their home country, management has to spend time on this whole issue (now and in the future).

Ignoring morals, this whole thing is bad for shareholders.

Re:Hmm (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261771)

The issue of morality here, is really an issue of should yahoo have gone into a country known to repress political dissent. Once they got there, there was really very little choice in the matter beyond leaving.

Like it or not, a corporation ultimately has to play by the rules of the countries in which it does business. Which is really why the question is why Yahoo felt the need to go into a country which it should have realized would require it to help fight with dissidents.

In the long run, this will likely hurt them whenever it is that the current regime is ousted. I can't imagine the next regime taking kindly to anybody that was aiding or abetting the current regime.

I do think there is additional pot-kettle interaction here with all the people that think that Yahoo should have broken Chinese laws, but expect for MS to obey the laws of every country in which it does business.

Re:Hmm (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21260855)

And, why aren't they yelling at AT&T for providing information to the Executive branch on the online activities of US citizens without a warrant? Is this not exactly the same thing as what Yahoo! is being lambasted for, except Yahoo! was *following* the law, and AT&T (and others) were *breaking* it?

Re:Hmm (5, Interesting)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261481)

Is this not exactly the same thing as what Yahoo! is being lambasted for, except Yahoo! was *following* the law, and AT&T (and others) were *breaking* it?

It's quite simple really. If you're "with us", you're not breaking the law(when the president does it, it's not illegal). If you're "against us", you are.

Re:Hmm (1)

JerryLove (1158461) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261591)

You beat me to it... though in defense of Congress: the current congress has not been a supporter of warrantless wiretaps. Still, we might want to look at that proverbial log in our eye.

Re:Hmm (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261665)

Of course, if another country housed an evil person who violated a US copyright, he should be turned over to the US immediately.

Also, kind of funny that he used the term "pygmy". Kind of like calling someone a nigger or jew.

Yahoo's response was careful and measured (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21260951)

Yahoo general counsel: we so horny, boom boom long time, we have ride stances

Re:Hmm (1)

javelinco (652113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261349)

Great point! I wish we didn't already know the answer.

They should know (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21260827)

Congress should know "moral pygmies" when they see them. They are the experts aren't they?

Re:They should know (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261213)

They're more like moral amoebae.

Why trash the pygmies? (5, Interesting)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261723)

They're a fine race of people that do not deserve to be grouped with Yahoo execs or even congressmen. Just because they lack lobby groups means its OK to mock their stature etc does it?

Let's see a Congressman get away with substituting in Black/Jew whatever and lasting out the day.

Morally you are pygmies? Look in the mirror... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21260851)

Yahoo's actions that resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of a Chinese dissident.

Yahoo complied with a request from the government of a country that is on friendly terms with the US government for an investigation that involved "state secrets".

Since the US government is taking the position that you have no privacy in your email, ever, and they can read it anytime without getting a warrant, let alone for "National Security" investigations, it's a bit ridiculous to expect US companies to have stricter standards in other countries.

Note that I'm not saying Yahoo is innocent, just that the congresscritters are being hypocritical.

Re:Morally you are pygmies? Look in the mirror... (5, Insightful)

rhombic (140326) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260945)

Shi Tao should be thankful he was a "potential dissident" in China rather than being a "potential terrorist" in the US; a finite (10yr) jail sentence versus an indefinite sentence & waterboarding.

Re:Morally you are pygmies? Look in the mirror... (1)

javelinco (652113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261333)

I'd say he should be thankful that he didn't get "disappeared," which is the usual punishment in China for political dissidents. Is the next comparison going to be "well, I'd rather be a jew in 1940's Germany then a terrorist in today's United States! I mean, waterboarding! Dang!" Valid and carefully measured statements about the wrongness of what our government is doing here is going to get a HELL of lot more traction, longterm, then overwrought and trumped up B.S. like this.

Re:Morally you are pygmies? Look in the mirror... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261429)

...an indefinite sentence & waterboarding.

Actually, a "potential terrorist" in US custody would be lucky to only get an indefinite sentence and waterboarding. It is an established fact that the US military has, in recent years, tortured innocent detainees to death.

I don't understand what Yahoo is supposed to do (0, Flamebait)

gorbachev (512743) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260859)

What's Yahoo supposed to do when faced with a subpoena from the Chinese Government?

Tell the Chinese the US Government thinks you're douchebags and so we're not really gonna give you what you want?

Sure, that'll work real well.

Troll my ass (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260967)

Parent is exactly right. They either have the choice to not work in china or to obey the government. So, we can either do the superficially morally-correct thing, or we can get a foot in the door of the next great superpower that has a longstanding record of human rights abuse, and make sure that foot is the greatest tool for the spreading of information since the printing press.

Please, someone explain why he's marked as a troll when, in reality, he's exactly right.

Re:Troll my ass (2, Funny)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261079)

Please, someone explain why he's marked as a troll when, in reality, he's exactly right.
It's not for the content of his post, but for his use of the word "douchbags"

He should know the only time the word "douchebags" is acceptable on /. is when immediately followed or preceded by the word "Microsoft"

(Note that in some instances this may also work with the term "RIAA")

Re:Troll my ass (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261471)

What douchebag invented that rule?

Re:Troll my ass (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261155)

Because he's not. If IBM can be raked over the coals for doing business with Nazis, then Yahoo, Google and Microsoft deserve no less. If De Beers can be raked over the coals for its role in the horrors of the African diamond trade, then Yahoo, Google and Microsoft deserve no less.

How precisely is Yahoo helping making China free by selling out dissidents? Explain precisely how Google is bringing freedom to the masses in China by censoring the Tiananmen Square incidents?

They are colluders, profiteers and immoral traitors to the societies in which they were created. Corporations exist as legal fictions in the industrialized world as a favor to their investors, but I see no reason that if those investors and those they put in positions of authority within the corporate entity decide to piss on the human rights that the industrialized world have taken since the Enlightenment to be inalieable that notions of legal fictions of personhood should stand. I think a consistent threat to strip corporations doing business in other parts of the world of their personhood, making directors and stockholders directly criminally and civily responsible for the actions of their foreign dummy companies would go a looong way. Let the cowards and villains in China's government persecute their own citizens, without the collusion of Western companies.

Make that the price of China doing business with the West.

Re:Troll my ass (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261277)

Cool, so when is it going to be the american governments turn?

besides, it's not yahoo's place to bring freedom to the people, and it's stupid to suggest that should be their purpose.

Re:Troll my ass (1, Insightful)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261321)

What's better for a chinese citizen, a Google search that's censored by google as legally required by the government, a chinese company's search result, or no search result? I'm of the opinion that a censored google is better than no google at all.

As pointed out in the article, Yahoo would have been putting their chinese employees at risk by refusing to turn over the information. Where's the moral superiority there? The only argument that can be made is that they shouldn't do any business at all in China, thereby increasing the separation between chinese citizens and the rest of the world. Unless you think isolation is in the best interest of the Chinese people (eg North Korea).

Re:Troll my ass (1)

crayz (1056) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261663)

They're an internet company. Their site can be viewed in China whether or not they employee people there. So yes, pull the employees out and refuse information requests like this. If the refusal causes China to block yahoo.com, too damn bad

Re:Troll my ass (2, Insightful)

m.ducharme (1082683) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261279)

Since when is upholding basic human rights only "superficially" morally correct? People need to get their priorities straight. Upholding human rights is more important than making money, more important than bringing search capability to the Chinese people (what good is Yahoo or Google when all the really important stuff is censored by the Chinese government? No good at all). Bad shit is coming down, in the US, in China, everywhere, and you are going to have to decide which team you're on. (having said all that, the poster you refer to isn't a troll...just morally vacant.)

Re:I don't understand what Yahoo is supposed to do (3, Funny)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261263)

What's Yahoo supposed to do when faced with a subpoena from the Chinese Government?

dunno - wait it out and see if they come back an hour later?

Re:I don't understand what Yahoo is supposed to do (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261413)

Pull out of China.
It's not like you have to work in China for the Chinese to get to Yahoo.com

Re:I don't understand what Yahoo is supposed to do (1)

lymond01 (314120) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261463)

What's Yahoo supposed to do when faced with a subpoena from the Chinese Government?
Tell the Chinese the US Government thinks you're douchebags and so we're not really gonna give you what you want?
Sure, that'll work real well.


They leave. China's a large market and I suppose a little tongue-lashing from a US kettle, I mean congressperson), about morality isn't going to bother them overmuch. The bad press they'll get over it is important to them however. Just look at Microsoft's market share after all the bad publicity they've gotten over the years...

I'm really not firming up my point here. Hold on...

Okay, a "moral" company would not help an immoral state. However, the line between helping a state and helping the people of the state is tricky. Yahoo is useful for dissidents and non-dissidents alike so to pull out is a bad thing. But if the choice comes between pulling out to save one person or continuing on to assist a country of people...it's not black and white.

The least they could've done was go on strike though...

Re:I don't understand what Yahoo is supposed to do (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261479)

What's Yahoo supposed to do when faced with a subpoena from the Chinese Government?

How about not getting in that position in the first place by choosing not to do business in a country with an oppressive regime?

Re:I don't understand what Yahoo is supposed to do (2, Insightful)

sussane (1111533) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261755)

wow, this news is really shocking. Yet another blow for Yahoo, i feel bad. Sussane

Doesn't Yahoo know ... (2, Funny)

Hmmm2000 (1146723) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260861)

What happens in China, stays in China?

Bad Yahoo, good AT&T (4, Insightful)

WasterDave (20047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260863)

Right, so Yahoo are bad for grassing up the online activities of a Chinese dissident to their government, but AT&T are good for spying on Americans for their government. This, presumably, is because the US government has a squeaky clean human rights record.

Aha. OK. You can put me on your list now.

Dave

Re:Bad Yahoo, good AT&T (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261185)

There's no list. I'd know.

(See my sig for details. In use since 1998)

Re:Bad Yahoo, good AT&T (1)

javelinco (652113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261247)

Are you going to eat both the apple AND the orange? Can you tell which is which? There's no doubt that there have been human rights issues with pretty much every government on the planet, and the U.S. government ABSOLUTELY isn't exempt. However, do you understand what it does with your credibility when you don't just compare them with China's, but actually attempt to make them equivalent?

Re:Bad Yahoo, good AT&T (1)

Atario (673917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261337)

Right, so Yahoo are bad for grassing up the online activities of a Chinese dissident to their government, but AT&T are good for spying on Americans for their government.
It may interest you to know that there are differing factions within the US. On of those factions condemn both Yahoo! and AT&T.

P.S. "Grassing up"??

oooh, having a politician calling you names (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260889)

With their net worth, I doubt if they're the slightest bit concerned about being called any names under the sun.

For a politican to call them "moral pygmies" must've been hard to keep a straight face and not burst out laughing.

pathetic

Depends on the politican, pal (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261251)

If it was bush or cheney calling me that, i wouldnt give a fart. Yet, lantos is not a light load when it comes to ethics.

Good ol' Tom Lantos (5, Informative)

seaturnip (1068078) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260935)

From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

During a 1996 Congressional inquiry into the "Filegate" scandal, Rep. Lantos told witness Craig Livingstone that "with an infinitely more distinguished public record than yours, Admiral Boorda committed suicide when he may have committed a minor mistake." Boorda, the Chief of Naval Operations, had recently taken his own life after his right to wear Combat V decorations had been questioned. Lantos was criticized by some (including fellow Congressman Joe Scarborough) who interpreted the remark as a suggestion that Livingstone too should kill himself.

On May 3, 2000, Lantos was involved in an automobile accident while driving on Capitol Hill. Lantos drove over a young boy's foot and then failed to stop his vehicle. He was later fined over the incident for inattentive driving.

In June 2007, Lantos called former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder a political prostitute.

In October 2007, Lantos insulted Dutch parliament members, while discussing the War on Terrorism by stating that the Netherlands had to help the United States, because they liberated them in the Second World War, whilst adding that the upheaval over Guantanamo in Europe was bigger than over Auschwitz at the time.

Re:Good ol' Tom Lantos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261795)

In October 2007, Lantos insulted Dutch parliament members, while discussing the War on Terrorism by stating that the Netherlands had to help the United States, because they liberated them in the Second World War,

Yup, it's just Lantos, but was there any American combat in the Netherlands? I thought that was a Canadian and British show.

Which is not to denigrate the combined effort of liberating Europe -- I just thought the American veterans made their reputation farther south. Were there any regular units in the Netherlands?

I'm sure this is redundant already (5, Insightful)

tsstahl (812393) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260949)

but wouldn't they expect Yahoo! U.S. to rollover if presented for an information request on the basis of "national security"?

Yahoo! China has to follow the laws of that country, just as we expect Yahoo! U.S. to do so.

Maybe the U.S. Government should issue Letters of Marque to multi-national corporations...

I don't for a second condone what Yahoo! did on moral grounds. However, legally they acted as expected.

Re:I'm sure this is redundant already (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261023)

Yahoo! China has to follow the laws of that country, just as we expect Yahoo! U.S. to do so.

What if the law in the US says you cannot follow the law in China?

There are plenty of laws that US citizens are supposed to follow while overseas even though the activity may be quite legal in the country they are dealing with. Mostly tax and sedition laws... But I suppose if they really wanted to, US congress could pass a law to outlaw doing business with people who don't respect human rights or democracy. Oh wait...

Re:I'm sure this is redundant already (5, Interesting)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261179)

"What if the law in the US says you cannot follow the law in China?"

... and what if China then passes a law saying you cannot follow US law?

Sovereignty means the country establishes the rules within their boundaries. If the US doesn't like it, they can always go to war with China. It will be the quickest war ever - China immediately dumps their vast US currency holdings on the open market, the US dollar becomes (even more) worthless within 1 minute due to programmed trading, etc.

China and Japan (and pretty much the rest of the world) are already looking to divest themselves of their reserves of US dollars, since Barneke has made it clear that he will destroy the dollar's value in a stupid attempt to delay the consequences of the collapsed housing bubble as long as possible, which will only make it worse when the time of reconning arrives,

The USD is no longer a "reserve currency". This has broad implications for the US' ability to "project force", and its loss of superpower status.

Re:I'm sure this is redundant already (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261561)

Sovereignty means the country establishes the rules within their boundaries. If the US doesn't like it, they can always go to war with China.

I agree with you, but it doesn't jive with the current way the Fed deals with foreign businesses. Do you remember when they arrested CEOs of foreign gambling sites whose servers were overseas and legal in the nations they operated in?

Same could be said about what is happening here. Of course they aren't going to go to war with China or even bring it up with Chinese leaders when they come and visit, but you can bet they'll tar and feather anyone at Yahoo they can and they'll be in a legal right (of course "legal" is quite questionable these days) to do so if the Yahoo person happen to be on US soil.

Hell... There are plenty of trade laws that will get a US citizen in federal prison for legal activity on foreign soil. How about those Cuban cigars?

Re:I'm sure this is redundant already (1)

tsstahl (812393) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261195)

What if the law in the US says you cannot follow the law in China?

Although not a corporate insider, I would posit that that is one of the reasons why Yahoo! China IS a separate entity.

help the family? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260955)

WTF, why would an internet search company have a moral obligation to look after the mans' family while he is in prison?

all of the pygmies i have known (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260965)

were morally and ethically upstanding

"Hi Kettle. This is the United States calling..." (0, Redundant)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260987)

...You're Black!"

I think that would be a pretty good response to the statement "While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies"

Re:"Hi Kettle. This is the United States calling.. (1)

macshit (157376) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261653)

No, actually it would be a rather childish response. The many failings of the U.S. Government (especially in its current incarnation) do not excuse Yahoo's actions.

If Yahoo wants to criticize some of the idiotic things the U.S. gov has been doing lately, they may of course do so (hey I wish they would!), but it has no bearing on this case.

Frackin hypocrites (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261031)

But, it's ok to rake through the private email of US citizens WITHOUT a warrant. I think the haggle over warrants is just a ruse, one to MAKE us think that the government (various agencies, that is) are OBEYING the law.

Might bite em back (1)

bombastinator (812664) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261047)

The use of the word pygmies may turn out to be ill advised. Bring ethnic characters into conversation as an insult is flat out asking for it. I suspect the pygmy population in the United States is rather low, but it probably doesn't matter. In fact if I was Yahoo I might even arrange to quietly cause a stink about it.

Re:Might bite em back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261141)

in other words...

I'm a pigmy, you insensitve clod!

Tom Lantos (1)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261095)

Lantos's voting record:

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/congress/members/l000090/ [washingtonpost.com]

a strong supporter of the war in Iraq and one of George Bush's allies on the Democratic side, facilitating the war in Iraq, authorizing the use of force by the president in Iraq.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Lantos [wikipedia.org]

Boy, getting lectured by this guy on morality... those poor Yahoo execs. It must have been hard not to burst out laughing.

The gaming crowd has hated Yahoo for years now... (0, Offtopic)

get quad (917331) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261137)

All because they bought up the absolute best game server browser, All-Seeing Eye, and then proceeded to kill it. Dead. Fuck Yahoo right in its crooked ass, same for Sony.

Re:The gaming crowd has hated Yahoo for years now. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261403)

so?

global economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261149)

It's going to be more and more cases like this, with economical globalization moving ahead, from the request of corporations with the approval of politicians. Corporations are not in the business of polical moral, political freedom, etc. they are in the business in making a buck anywhere in the whole universe.

As corporations will be more and more globalized, individual states will have less and less control over them.
Even the US government won't be (may be this should be a present tense, really) able to control or truly regulate them.
This is the era when national politicians still pretend to the public that they have such power - but in fact, they have been stupid enough to let it slip a while ago.

I think it's not too far away when megacorp execs. won't even bother to show up before the Congress or other political organization.

Do ad-hominem attacks on Lantos (2, Insightful)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261187)

Make him any less correct?

Or for that matter, does your opinion of the US Govt make the oppressive Chinese government any better?

Cripes, it's like you're all a bunch of Michael Moore clones or something. US=bad, so everything else = good?

Re:Do ad-hominem attacks on Lantos (1, Flamebait)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261367)

SO me a post where anyone has said anything GOOD about the chinese government?

yahoo might be dicks for handing over that information, but it's not like they had a lot of options. I'm not familar with yahoo's operations but i'm guessing the data was housed in chinese territory, so the government would have just taken it by force if they refused.

and it sounds like this lantos guy needed calling out to begin with.

WHat the hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261295)

What's wrong with being a pygmy ??

No seriously, how is that a means to insult someone? It's not a medical condition or disability, it's a harmless characteristic -- like hair color.

FUCK TOM LANTOS! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261327)

Let's see what that son of a whore will say the next time Israel kills a Palestinian family picnicking on the beach. Probably the same thing he said last time: NOTHING.

Fuck Tom Lantos, zionist whore. He criticizes China when it jails a political dissident, but gives Israel a pass for the same or worst.

FUCK HIM.

state secrets (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261517)

That's Chinese for "classified information", right?

guantanamo (1)

youthoftoday (975074) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261581)

I don't know in what capacity these people serve, but we put them onto the 'extraordinary rendition', Guantanamo bay etc people. That would be fun.

Moral giants of Washington, D.C. (1)

athloi (1075845) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261585)

Please, Yahoo!, step aside with your feeble attempts to please one of your host countries. We have more important wars to wage, and may indeed want to take out those pesky Chinese. So you moral pygmies, out of our war errr our way, for we have important wars errr good deeds to wage.

Ignore the homeless, the ghetto, the pollution, the drug addicts, the crime, the Wal-mart, the blind political correctness, the perversion of religion and patriotism, the secret detention camps and the suburban blight on your way out.

The question is... (1)

stm2 (141831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261593)

What were the options for Yahoo employees? Aren't they binded by China laws when they are in China?
From TFA:
"Callahan has since acknowledged that Yahoo officials had received a subpoena-like document"

Following their law means "state secrets" laws too (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21261649)

In Feb. 2006, Yahoo's General Counsel Callahan testified that he had not known the nature of the investigation the authorities were conducting. He later learned that several employees of Yahoo China were aware at the time that the investigation involved "state secrets," but Callahan did not go back to Congress to amend his testimony.

But Lantos dismissed their explanation, saying state secrets investigations in China are commonly recognized as frequently targeting dissidents.


Interesting that they just couldnt make the connection between "state secrets" and dissident prosecution when the evidence was all around them and well known. I wonder if any violations in that respect got trumped by The Almighty Stockholder(not to be confused with mutual fund holders). Nothing like cash to overlook your violation of "state secrets" law.

This illustrates one more case for trade regulations so that this problem stays solved.

Most FUCKING "Favored" Nation Status Eh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21261735)

This is complete bullshit. If Congress really cared we wouldn't be using Chinese labor for cheap crap to be peddled on tv which is trucked up to North America from Mexico to good ol FUCKING WAL-MART!

Fuck off dickheads! China has been given "MOST FAVORED NATION STATUS", why in God's name would they actually give a fuck!
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