Roger L. Simon

Monopoly of the Cyber Enablers

The Washington Post has a brave and important editorial today – Obeying Orders – about Yahoo’s recent cooperation with Chinese authorities. As readers will recall, the cyber giant provided an email address to those authorities that resulted in a ten-year sentence for journalist Shi Tao. (Subsequently, Yahoo’s chief Jerry Yang gave a particularly odd explanation for his company’s behavior.) The WaPo editorial concludes in this manner:

This is not merely an abstract business ethics issue: Yahoo’s behavior in China could have real consequences for U.S. foreign policy. Over the past two decades, many have argued — ourselves included — that despite China’s authoritarian and sometimes openly hostile government, it is nevertheless right to encourage American companies to work there. Their very presence has been thought to make the society more open, if not necessarily more democratic. If that is no longer the case — if, in fact, American companies are helping China become more authoritarian, more hostile and more of an obstacle to U.S. goals of democracy promotion around the world — then it is time to rethink the rules under which they operate.

Indeed, as Instapundit (where I found this link) would say. And it is not just Yahoo! that is involved here but, as we know, its co-cyber enablers Google and Microsoft whose China policies are similar.

But, to be honest, as one of the decision-makers at PJMedia, I am left here with an uncomfortable conundrum. As we set up our permanent site, one of the necessities will be links to mainstream media. Most of those links, and often the best and most efficient ones, come through the companies above. What to do?