November 6, 2007
House Committee Grils Yahoo! Execs Over Previous Testimony
CNET has a live blog of the hearing held Tuesday morning by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The notes are generated by the webcast available from the Committee web site. So far, the Committee members are in full condemnation mode of Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang and General Counsel Michael Callaghan over the cooperation provided by Yahoo! to the Chinese government in the prosecution of Chinese dissident Shi Tao. Yahoo! has defended the action on the basis of having to obey laws of other jurisdictions in which they do business, and that the company was unaware of the nature of the request. Yahoo! representatives have said as much to the Committee at an earlier hearing. The Committee has a document that shows that China presented clear information to the company on the nature of the criminal investigation. Hence this hearing to address the discrepancy.
Yahoo! says that the information was never really conveyed to the company as they based their earlier testimony on a bad English translation, which was all the company had at the time. The error on the company's part was not to share updated information with the Committee when they had it several months later. The early statements by Committee members suggest that they will not be mollified. One wonders, however, whether this will actually have any substantial effect on how the company does business in China, or whether this will be a temporary embarrassment to company executives. As the blog points out, Committee Chair Tom Lantos noted that neither executive has been charged with perjury. Yang and Callaghan are not expected to say much given that the incident is the subject of a lawsuit. Anything they say to the Committee under oath can be used at trial, and they are probably very aware of that. This hearing may be more high theater than anything of consequence. Legal liability for Yahoo! will be way more interesting if that occurs.
The Committee web site for the hearing is here.
November 6, 2007 | Permalink
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