2006/06/03

Yahoo CEO likes China, unsure about Nazis

Corporate money-grabbers have shown their true colors again, with Yahoo chief Terry Semel making it clear that taking care of business is far more important than taking care of liberty.

At a recent presentation Semel was asked if Yahoo would have cooperated with Nazi Germany the same way it has with China.

"Yahoo has a basic obligation not to have a point of view on basic content, and to present content ... and aggregate things and to allow people to make their own choices. I don't know how I would have felt then," Semel answered.

The collaborator even dared to suggest that he was helping the cause of freedom.

"To me, it's about keeping the information flowing. Little by little, we start to bring about change," he said.

The tech giant has recently been implicated in a number of convictions of reporters in China, who had been trying to spread freedom and democracy (the real kind, not the Dubya kind). It seems that whenever China asks Yahoo for their user logs, they roll over at the drop of a hat to grease the wheels of business.

Trying to show a human side, the corporate collaborator whined that he didn't like having to rat good people out to the Chinese. "I don't feel good about what's happening in China today. I don't feel good about some of the things that happen in our own country," he claimed.

"I continue to be pissed off, outraged, and feel very very bad about it," Semel said. "But you have to follow the laws of the country you're in."

In April Yahoo was implicated in the conviction of Jiang Lijun, a 39-year-old reporter who was found guilty of using the Internet "to promote so-called Western-style democracy," and "advocate that our country implement a multiparty system." Lijun is currently serving a 4 year jail sentence, on the basis of evidence used by the prosecution which included "email account information provided by Yahoo! Holdings." In all, there have been four incidents already in which Yahoo acted as the lapdog of the Chinese government.

Semel has made clear in the past that China is a huge market for his company, due to the large amount of Internet, PC and wireless device users. It seems that the dollar signs are just too enticing for Yahoo to not do business with China, because Semel has every excuse imaginable in his trick bag.

"I don't think any one company is going to change a country, and I don't think any one industry is going to change a country," he said. That sort of avoids the simple moral answer of not dealing with fascist murderers, as Reporters Without Borders point out.

"We already knew that Yahoo collaborates enthusiastically with the Chinese regime in questions of censorship, and now we know it is a Chinese police informant as well," the free press organization said recently. "The company will yet again simply state that they just conform to the laws of the countries in which they operate. 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?"

If American Yahoo users didn't already have enough reason to shop elsewhere, Semel had another message. He defended Yahoo's cooperation with recent data requests from U.S. authorities, saying that he "couldn't understand" why Google refused to turn over user information to the Feds. "The better job we do in making the Internet a safer environment, the better it is for growth of the Internet," he said. And he doesn't seem to mind if the little people - that's us - get trampled over in the process.

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