April 28, 2006
Yahoo appears to have kowtowed to the Chinese government yet again and passed details of a fourth dissident writer’s email account to the security forces, brightening the spotlight thrown on the dubious compromises that western businesses are making to operate within the world’s second largest internet market.
Doing business in China has always involved a heavy dose of realpolitik – a senior mobile phone industry executive, desperate to get into the world’s fastest growing mobile market, once described operating in China to me as akin to walking into a room and taking down his trousers. But what makes Yahoo’s flagrant co-operation and the recent self-censorship carried out by search engine rival Google so shocking to web users, is that the internet has been sold to the world as a tool for free speech not for maintaining or even strengthening the political status quo.
And it’s certainly caused me to think less of both organizations, and the people behind them.