Friday, 15 June 2007

Shareholders torpedo Yahoo's anti censorship policy

Yahoo, amongst others, have been getting stick recently for cosying up to governments such as China, who are big on net censorship.

Presumably feeling a little sensitive to criticisms of their policies by human rights groups, Yahoo proposed to adopt a policy that opposed censorship and to set up a human rights committee, to review it’s policies in various locales.

Complete sites - including news media - are eliminated from Yahoo and Google in China. Also Yahoo has been criticized for turning over political dissidents' e-mails that were then used as evidence against them.

Sad to say the proposals were very heavily defeated by Yahoo shareholders.

At Yahoo’s AGM the human rights committee idea was rejected by a huge 96%.

More disturbing 85% are apparently advocates of censorship. Or at least ambivalent towards it when it comes to an increased dividend. It’s enough to make you start to wonder just how many shares in Yahoo the Chinese communist party actually holds ;-)

Personally I would really like to see them rethink their apparently pro censorship stance.


CBA said...

This is truly strikes one as so ironic that entirely apolitical capitalist motives are fostering communist censorship so strongly. It is fascinating how an out-right idelogical stand off that lasted 45 years (and in the minds of only a few, now still has any relevance) can be so easily reconciled for mutual advantage in totalitarian oppression. Makes one wonder what if anything has changed sine the late 80's and early 90's: was ideology ever the issue? is the fear of renewed stand-off so great? or have our principles changed so much in the almost two intervening decades? evidently those concerning human rights have, as they are now being sacrificed for the sake of profit...

CFD Ed said...

CBA, Yes, it is questionable just how ‘Communist’ the Communist regime of China actually is these days. Never-the-less they are certainly authoritarian and oppressive more in certain respects than others I suspect.

Without knowing the ins and outs of the voting and who the shareholders are, it is difficult to call the motives for sure, but they do appear to be putting short term financial advantage against longer term market benefits to be had if the company is known as an honest broker of information.

Given that is the business Yahoo are in and they seem to be loosing ground maybe they ought to be more conscious of this. They are known for censoring the Chinese net, one might start to wonder, how much do they filter our searches?

Certainly the management of the company seem to be aware of it.

It does seem to me that taking a stance on the issue of censorship would not have hurt them too much in China.

They could surely have just pushed it as far as the matter would easily go and kept up a subtle pressure after.

Simply indicating they didn’t approve would have been better than nothing, image-wise.