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

Yahoo and Google and China - it's time to Do Some Good

Posted by Tom Foremski - November 6, 2006

Tank Man Tiananmen Square June 5, 1989
One of the most powerful images of the 20th Century is "Tank Man" the man that walked out in front of a column of tanks -- a day after the bloody suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

He walked into the middle of a pedestrian crossing, with two shopping bags in his hands, and stood down a tank column--stopped them dead in their tracks.

The tanks tried to move around him but he blocked them again and again. He clambered on top of the lead tank and spoke with the crew.

PBS Frontline produced an excellent feature on Tank man earlier this year, I urge you to watch it. Nobody knows what happened to him, some say he was whisked away into the crowd.

But maybe Yahoo can help the Chinese government find him, he might be using Yahoo mail - you never know: [email protected]

Yahoo's executive management doesn't need to step out in front of a column of tanks to protest injustice in China, or anywhere else in the world, their rights are protected here. So why help the Chinese government track down and jail Chinese blogger Shi Tao for trying to exercise very mild political dissent? A ten year jail sentence.

Yahoo can do the right thing, right now. It can launder the personal data it collects - especially if it is being collected in countries where there is a high likelihood that the personal data could cause serious harm to a Yahoo user if government agencies or their proxies, were to have access to that data.

Yahoo: Launder your data of all personal details through third parties if you have to-- it's as simple as that. And that goes for Google too. Forget about "Do no Evil" how about "Do some good."

There's not much cachet in working for a "police informant" as Reporters without Borders dubbed Yahoo's actions in China.

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