Yahoo Adds Bricks to China's 'Great Firewall'

The U.S. government apparently can't do anything about the bloggers and international online news sites whose coverage forced the politically embarrassing story of U.S. soldiers posting photos of mutilated Iraqis on the Internet. 

The government of China has no such problem -- thanks in small part to Yahoo!

Earlier this week, the Chinese Ministry of Information announced a package of measures designed to control bloggers and Internet-only news sites, a move that Radio Free Europe says follows other "recent measures aimed at setting up Internet police and otherwise intimidating people into self-censorship -- sometimes with the help of foreign tech companies."

The Financial Times and other online news sites call it "The Great Firewall," the planet's "most sophisticated system of Internet controls."

Yahoo is among the foreign tech companies acquiescing in China's Internet control system, according to the journalistic watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The Hong Kong affiliate of the California-based Internet giant gave Chinese authorities information that enabled them to track down a Chinese journalist named Shi Toa, RSF reported earlier this month.

Shi Toa was prosecuted in April for e-mailing foreign news sites with the text of an internal message from authorities warning them about coverage of the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Shit Toa received a 10-year sentence.

Yahoo barely denied collaborating with the prosecution, telling Reuters it had to "abide by local laws." The Hong Kong Standard said Yahoo and other media corporations are "mesmerized by the prospects of the world's largest market."
China Economic Net, a state-controlled business news site, reported this week that "by the end of this year, there will be US$2 billion of venture capital invested in China's Internet sector." A Morgan Stanley analyst was quoted as saying China's Internet sector "has a great growing potential and investors can benefit from that."

But independent online journalists should beware. 

By Jefferson Morley |  October 1, 2005; 8:30 AM ET  | Category:  Asia
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Please email us to report offensive comments.

Moral of the story? Boycott Yahoo! if you care about a free press.

Posted by: | October 2, 2005 10:13 PM

not a bad ides..let's see if it has any mileage to it

Posted by: steve | October 3, 2005 07:06 PM

There is the strong possibility of Yahoo being able to turn over citizens, say in the U.S. to Chinese authorities.

Should this happen, I would presume the offending party would liable to billion dollar lawsuits.

Posted by: Nutter | October 3, 2005 07:40 PM

I am in China right now. Some stuff is blocked but I was able to read this report. I think the "great firewall" is mostly aimed at stuff written in Chinese. Besides with a proxy server set up the great firewall means squat.

Posted by: Bill Benson | April 10, 2006 01:31 PM

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