Has Yahoo as good as admitted breaching human rights?

November 14, 2007

So Yahoo has settled the lawsuit with a number of Chinese dissidents who had filed a court case against them. The terms of settlement have not been disclosed.

The case had alleged that Yahoo had provided the Chinese government with information which helped them to prosecute the dissidents. No word on exactly what type of information Yahoo had handed over although one would suspect it could be search histories, email details, chat histories and possibly lists of websites visited.

So have they really breached the human rights of these dissidents? Well, the liberal in me thinks that they should never hand over any identifiable information to anyone else, I would be outraged if my details were misused in this way. But then, wouldn’t the same happen in the UK? If I broke a law then Yahoo would happily hand over my email if the government requested it.

I guess the difference in this case is that they are dissidents living under a restrictive regime. Therefore by handing over the information Yahoo have put these poor people in danger which is inexcusable morally. However, it is understandable from a business point of view, if Yahoo refused they would have risked being switched off in the largest populated country in the world which would have damaged their business considerably.

I would imagine it was a pretty tough choice for Yahoo and although they chose the route which to me personally is wrong morally for them it was probably the right decision.


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