Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cyber Censors

The Internet as not such a liberating experience for some .

A human rights group in the US is suing Yahoo for alleged complicity in rights abuses and acts of torture in China. The World Organization for Human Rights says Yahoo's sharing of information with the Chinese government has led to the arrests of writers and dissidents. One journalist cited in the case was tracked down and jailed for 10 years for subversion after Yahoo passed on his e-mail and IP address to officials.

The human rights group has brought the case in San Francisco on behalf of the journalist, Shi Tao, and another named Wang Xiaoning. The men's defence lawyer said Yahoo should have asked the Chinese government why it wanted information about the two men before handing it over. He said Yahoo had failed to live up to its ethical responsibilities . Shi Tao was jailed for posting comments critical of government corruption on the web.

Yahoo is not the only internet company accused of collaborating with Chinese authorities. Rivals Google freely admit to blocking politically sensitive items on their China website. Whole websites - including media sources - are eliminated from Yahoo and Google in China. De-listed sites are skipped over when the search engine trawls the web for results.

Regardless of the defence of their actions that search providers try and present , the simple fact is - cash - China has potential for massive profit and that is sufficient motive for Yahoo and Google to co-operate with the Chinese dictatorship .

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