International Dealings Tough For Yahoo
The choice between having no presence in a country or some presence means complying with laws that outsiders will question.
Yang presented Georgetown University with a million-dollar check to fund a study of the link between the Internet and international values. One might not be faulted for thinking he could figure that out from reading Yahoo News whenever a censorship story appears, or checking out what Reporters Without Borders thinks about certain countries like, oh, let’s see, China.
The link is this: relative press freedom and Internet access equals relative individual freedom. Countries that hinder Net access tend to be a little bit oppressive.
Yang suggested it’s so difficult, setting up shop in a country with a big, growing Internet audience, to attendees of his appearance at Georgetown. Reuters noted the angst which the billionaire Taiwanese immigrant expressed in his remarks:
Yang, whose family emigrated from Taiwan when he was ten, called himself “a big believer in American values” but added: “As we operate around the world we don’t have a heavy handed American view.”
“We operate within these environments to the extent that the law has any clarity….We think we’re hitting more gray areas than ever before. I don’t think it’s an easy question,” he said.
It’s not real easy for the journalists jailed in China with the help of lawfully requested information from Yahoo, either. Operating in a country with a less than generous attitude toward civil liberties, and actively censoring content the government doesn’t like, should be enough of an answer for Yang to determine where doing business elsewhere could be difficult.