Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

11.07.06: 24 hours against censorship

Posted by Richard Koman - November 7, 2006

Today is not only Election Day in the US but also Reporters Sans Frontieres' (Reporters Without Borders') "24 hours against censorship." A good and noble effort but one that unfortunately seems more about techno bells and whistles than anything substantive.

You can launch an interactive map to vote on which of 13 repressive countries is most repressive. You can record a very short message to Jerry Yang to protest Yahoo's actions in the case of Shi Tao. And you can sign up for a fee-based blog network. Hmmm.

In any case, it's a good moment to review Yahoo's complicity in China's arrest and sentencing of Shi Tao to 10 years in prison.

In September, the Dui Hua Foundation translated Shi's conviction into English, exposing the fact that Yahoo acted as a police informant for the Chinese government. Shi committed the crime of journalism by emailing to foreign websites an email his newspaper received from the Chinese government, warning about the dangers of "social destabilization" from commemmorations of Tiananmen Square.

Reporters Without Borders denounced Yahoo at the time:

“Yahoo! obviously complied with requests from the Chinese authorities to furnish information regarding an IP address that linked Shi Tao to materials posted online, and the company will yet again simply state that they just conform to the laws of the countries in which they operate,” the organisation said. “But does the fact that this corporation operates under Chinese law free it from all ethical considerations? How far will it go to please Beijing?”

Reporters Without Borders added: “Information supplied by Yahoo! led to the conviction of a good journalist who has paid dearly for trying to get the news out. It is one thing to turn a blind eye to the Chinese government’s abuses and it is quite another thing to collaborate.”

For more, see Tom's posts on the topic: Despicable behavior by Yahoo and Time to Do Some Good.

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