Jailed Chinese Reporter Joins Suit Against Yahoo

    June 11, 2007

When a Chinese reporter was imprisoned due to Yahoo’s loose lips, the reporter’s mother filed a lawsuit on his behalf.  Now, although he is still in jail, Shi Tao’s name has been added to the suit.

In response, Yahoo appears to have made yet another half-apology.  “Yahoo is dismayed that citizens in China have been imprisoned for expressing their political views on the Internet,” the search engine company told the AP‘s Dikky Sinn.  If you’re just tuning in, a story from our own David Utter can provide some background information.

Another of David’s pieces demonstrates how past statements from Yahoo have also been of a pass-the-buck, shift-the-blame nature; CEO Terry Semel once said, “I continue to be pissed off, outraged, and feel very very bad about it.  But you have to follow the laws of the country you’re in . . . .  I don’t think any one company is going to change a country, and I don’t think any one industry is going to change a country.”

Semel may be on firm legal ground, but that still doesn’t appear to be winning Yahoo any points in the PR department.  Just this past week, Reporters Without Borders “reiterated its call to the Chinese authorities to quickly release journalist Shi Tao after his mother received the World Association of Newspapers’ Golden Pen award on his behalf at a ceremony.”

Then came a new report from Amnesty International bashing Yahoo (along with Google and Microsoft).  And now Shi’s name has been added to the lawsuit against Yahoo.  The search engine company appears to be doing just fine, from a business perspective, despite this mess.  Still, one has to wonder if Yahoo’s leaders will, at some point, feel compelled to make amends.