Ok. I admit it. When it comes to this story I’m a little bit late to the scene. But after reading about Yahoo’s settlement yesterday with the families of the Chinese dissidents that the company helped to put in jail, I’m boycotting them for good
And I don’t care if their earnings skyrocket by 900% next quarter and their P/E ratio drops to 1, I’m not buying them under any circumstance.-even though they are now working to make amends.
In fact, I’m not using their site anymore either, which might be kind of tough… I really love those new charts in beta.
At issue, of course, is what put the two dissidents on the wrong side of the Chinese authorities in the first place.
You see, Yahoo helped to bury these two guys a few years back by handing over their personal information to Chinese government.
One of the men, Shi Tao, was tracked down and jailed for 10 years for subversion after Yahoo passed on his e-mail and IP address to officials.
His crime? He e-mailed a Communist party communiqué about press coverage of some returning Chinese pro-democracy activists to an overseas non-profit.
Similarly, Wang Xiaoning was sentenced to 10 years in prison after he wrote and emailed messages calling for democratic reforms and posted them to a Yahoo group. And like Shi, it was the Yahoo release of his information that eventually doomed him.
Both men by the way were also tortured for their "crimes".
The case came to light again last week when Yahoo officials were called before Congress to explain themselves. It was there that Congressman Tom Lantos blasted the tech giant saying," "While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies."
News of yesterday’s settlement prompted this response from Lantos: "It took a tongue-lashing from Congress before these hi-tech titans did the right thing," he said. "What a disgrace."
Lantos, of course, was absolutely right, which wasn’t all that surprising. After all he’s seen oppression before at the hands of the Nazi’s as a Holocaust survivor.
That makes Yahoo’s behavior in the matter completely inexcusable-for me at least.
That’s because freedom of speech and the right to privacy are not just some abstractions that can be bartered away in the rush to do a little business–no matter how super-sized that market may be.
Now more than ever, capitalism needs its conscious.
Yahoo forgot theirs.