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Group Alleges Yahoo Helped Jail Chinese Writer

David Utter
Expert Author
Published: 2005-09-07

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Reporters Without Borders claims Yahoo acted as a "police informant," leading to a writer's conviction in Beijing.

Yahoo paid $1 billion to gain a stake in Chinese ecommerce firm Alibaba. They may have paid the Chinese government a favor in the form of Shi Tao, a journalist convicted of passing state secrets and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Reporters Without Borders slammed Yahoo in a statement: "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 organization said.

The accusation hinges on court records in the trial of Mr. Shi, where the verdict shows information provided by Yahoo Holdings led Chinese authorities to determine a Yahoo email address and a specific message containing a "state secret" could be traced to an IP address used by Mr. Shi.

Yahoo and its fellow search engine competitors Google and Microsoft have been accused before of censoring content in exchange for entry into the Chinese market. But none of them have ever been accused of being complicit in the prosecution of a journalist before.

In the statement, Reporters Without Borders said Yahoo signed the "Public Pledge on Self-Discipline for the China Internet Industry" in 2002. This means Yahoo agreed to government censorship regulations. Searches performed on certain prohibited terms return a limited set of results, pre-approved by the Chinese government.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.

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