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April 19, 2006

China, Bill Gates, Yahoo! in Recent News

China and technology have been in the news more than usual lately.  Lets start off with Chinese President Hu Jintao visiting the U.S. He started with dinner with Bill Gates and local corporations who paid $20,000 apiece for the privilege.  At that rate, Hu might have a future on the political fund raising circuit. 

Copyright violation is always a touchy subject between the U.S. and Beijing, but Lenovo, the company that bought IBM's PC business announced a $1.2 billion deal to pre-install Windows on their PCs.  China recently passed a law to ban computers sold without an operating system pre-installed. 

Then there's Yahoo! getting in trouble again for allegedly assisting the Chinese government in the jailing of another dissident.  Yahoo! is accused by Reporters Without Borders of turning over email from Jiang Lijun to Chinese authorities.  Jiang's case is not new, but recent documents from the case show that Yahoo! was the source of information that led to jailing of the dissident.  There are three cases so far where Yahoo! has been implicated in providing assistance to the Chinese government that led to prison terms. 

Yahoo! ran commercials several years ago featuring unlikely people using the service with the tag line "do you Yahoo!" or something like that.  One featured an eastern European villager using Yahoo! personals to find a more compatible mate.  I guess we missed the one where armed Chinese soldiers break into an apartment and arrest the occupant while he's sending an email.  Cue the cutesy music played at the end while the guy's led down a prison corridor.  Yahooooooooooooooo!

And in irony upon ironies, a story surfaced in the past few weeks that Yahoo! could face penalties in Hong Kong for divulging personal data that sent Shi Tao to jail.  Shi was jailed in 2003 for divulging state secrets, specifically the government warning to be on guard against dissidents on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.  Cindy Sheehan wouldn't last an hour there.  Hong Kong legislator Albert Ho filed a complaint with the Hong Kong Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data.  The commissioner's office has 45 days to respond to the complaint.  A civil suit against Yahoo! is also possible.  The company denied any involvement from its Hong Kong offices.  This may get interesting by the time Hu gets to Washington.

April 19, 2006 | Permalink

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