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George Washington University Law School

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Yang and Callahan testimony in Congressional hearing

Last week I posted here about the hearings before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs regarding Yahoo's role in the prosecution of Shi Tao. Here are some more useful links:

Callahan's testimony reveals that he learned in October 2006 that his earlier testimony to Congress - to the effect that Yahoo had not known the nature of the investigation of Shi Tao - was inaccurate. He apologizes for not informing the Committee of this.

A puzzle remains in that Callahan, speaking for Yahoo (the US parent), continues to insist that the request for information was received by Yahoo China, and that the information in question was provided by them. Thus, the issue as framed by Yahoo is whether a Chinese company can be expected to resist Chinese government orders. The documents uncovered in litigation and posted on the Duihua Foundation's web site, however, seem to show that the request was to Yahoo Hong Kong (specifically, its representative office in Beijing), and that it was Yahoo Hong Kong that provided the information. (For more on this, with relevant links, see my previous post here.) The House Foreign Affairs Committee has focused solely on whether Yahoo knew of the nature of the investigation of Shi Tao, and seems to have overlooked this other problem.

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Comments

When the Chinese government made requests to Yahoo! for personally identifiable information Yahoo! Hong Kong was a subsidiary of Yahoo! International Subsidiaries Holding which was, in turn, a subsidiary of Yahoo!, Inc.

By the time the House hearings were held in Jan 2006, Yahoo! had arranged for Yahoo! Hong Kong to be sold to Alibaba. Yahoo! retained a minority stake in the venture and placed its CEO on the four member board of Alibaba.

Callahan's statements are geared to highlight that Yahoo!, Inc. no longer owns the same subsidiary that provided information to Chinese authorities and that all information relating to the hows and whys are now in exclusive control of Yahoo! China. More to the point - Yahoo! Hong Kong no longer exists. (Sneaky, Sneaky)

Posted by: K Gore | Nov 14, 2007 10:01:42 AM

The statement that Yahoo! Hong Kong no longer exists is not correct. A quick look at the Hong Kong Companies Registry (http://www.icris.cr.gov.hk/csci/) shows that a company by that name exists. I do not, of course, know what ownership structure lies behind the name.

Posted by: Don Clarke | Nov 16, 2007 6:04:03 PM

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