Roger L. Simon

Yahoo - A Good 1940s German Company

I was about to go to sleep until I read this pathetic statement from Yahoo chief Jerry Yang excusing his company’s passing information to Chinese authorities which resulted in a ten-year prison sentence for journalist Shi Tao.

Yang, speaking at the Alibaba China Internet Summit here, also said he wasn’t happy with the 10-year sentence to journalist Shi Tao, jailed for passing on a government censorship order through his Yahoo e-mail account.

“We did not know what they wanted information for, we are not told what they look for, if they give us the proper documentation in a court order we give them things that satisfy local laws,” Yang told journalists

“I don’t like the outcome of what happened with this thing, we get a lot of these orders, but we have to comply with the law and that’s what we need to do.”

Oh, really? By the exact same logic, were Yahoo a German company in the 1940s and the state had asked it to send all their Jewish, Catholic, gypsy and gay employees to concentration camps for extermination, well, it would have been the local law and they would have had to have done so.

Sorry, Mr. Yang, you may be a billionaire, but you are not even the shadow of a moral human being. I suggest you have a look at Thoreau’s essay on civil disobedience. You may have missed it in college.

UPDATE: Michael Malone’s always interesting Silicon Insider had a valuable column on the totalitarian government condrum for Microsoft, Google and Yahoo last June. I don’t have to explain to the readership of this blog the power of these companies over our daily lives. This is a hugely important subject for discussion in the blogosphere. Wichita Boy has an extremely smart post below whose implications are bleak indeed for lovers of human freedom. I hope he’s wrong but he certainly makes a good case in a few words. If anyone has the power to confront this dark future and push it back, perhaps even more than governments, it is those three companies. So far they have not shown a willingess to do it.