Thursday, March 30, 2006

Yahoo! Abomination. (YHOO)

Rebecca MacKinnon continues to criticise Yahoo! over their facilitation of human rights abuses in China.

"Based on my conversations with people in the Chinese dot-com world, I get the impression that initially, they weren't thinking through the full implications of their business plans. But given that they are now doing nothing to help the families of the dissidents who are in jail thanks to Yahoo!'s cooperation with the Chinese police, and they are doing nothing to prevent more such convictions with Yahoo!'s assistance in the future (or the assistance of it's Chinese partner Alibaba under the Yahoo! brand), one must conclude they also don't actually care very much. If Yahoo's disingenuousness annoys you as much as it annoys me, Amnesty International has a letter writing campaign with all the addresses you need to let Jerry Yang and his colleagues know what you think. They have several recommendations for action which I have updated and modified below.

If Yahoo! wants to convince their users worldwide that the company actually cares about user rights, and that Yahoo! deserves user trust, Yahoo! should:

• Use its influence to secure the release of Shi Tao, Li Zhi, and any other people who simply exercised their universally recognized right to political dissent and whose arrest and sentencing was aided by Yahoo!
• Stop any actions that could undermine human rights in any country in which you operate
• Take immediate steps to ensure that all its units – the parent corporation and subsidiaries – uphold human rights responsibilities for companies, as outlined by the UN Norms for Business
• Develop an explicit human rights policy, ensuring that it complies with the UN Norms for Business.

Note: There is no mention here about disengagement with China. Jerry Yang, and other Yahoo! executives, please stop claiming that your critics are advocating disengagement. Most of us aren't. Stop treating the public and your (increasingly former) users like morons. It's really bad for business. You've certainly lost my trust."

Well said.

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