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Q1) Should Yahoo have provided information on Shi Tao to the Chinese Government?

When asked about the information related to Shi Tao, Yahoo did not have any clear idea about the
orders from the Chinese government. There was no official company policy outlined for such kind of
requests. But the terms of service for Yahoo’s Chinse accounts provided for Yahoo’s compliance with
government investigation. If this case is considered rationally, then Yahoo was not wrong in
providing information since Shi Tao had agreed the terms of service. But if this case is considered
from the human rights perspective, then violation of freedom to speech and expression is observed.
It is a known fact that Human rights concerns are always a strand of any policy in China.

Also, Chinese government is considered to be very commanding type of government. Internet in


China is controlled by five bodies as well as internet police. Thus, providing information about Shi
Tao in such conditions was not wrong.

There is a huge difference in Asian countries and Western countries in terms culture, politics and
ethics. What is considered right in one country may not be considered right in another. Thus,
organizations need to consider social and moral values of the country in which they are operating
and should work in compliance with that.

Q2) What were Yahoo’s responsibilities?

In an initial response to the situation, Yahoo denied that it had anything to do with the situation and
they were just complying with the Chinese law. After meeting with the families of the victims, Yang
said that it was Yahoo’s responsibility to bring justice to them. Later Yahoo took the position of
leadership in stating that US government should take some action and address the concerns about
their business and legal practices in foreign nations.

If we consider ethical responsibility of Yahoo, it was lawful in China but it was not lawful in US and
international legal standards. Yahoo should have clearly informed its users about the risks. Yahoo
should have been more transparent with its users and details about why material is being censored
should have been clearly communicated amongst the users.

Q3) How would you explain the Chinese Government’s Internet Policy?

Chinese government had created several tools to monitor the activities of internet users. All the
organizations were to follow censorship system developed by the government due to security
reasons. The government restricts freedom of expression and speech. They even have a body known
as Internet Police which monitors all the actions of internet users.

Thus, internet policy in China is very restrictive. This is also the reason that why global giants (such as
Google) have not established their business directly in China.

Q4) What, if anything, could Yahoo have done differently to prevent the Shi-Tao situation? Once
the incident had occurred, what, if anything, could they have done differently?

Yahoo should have clearly outlined the policies and procedures for such kind of situations
beforehand itself. They should have decided the policies in congruence with US management. They
could have even followed the approach adopted by Google. This would have avoided Yahoo from
falling in this kind of situation. Yahoo could also have asked for clear explanation regarding the case
from Chinese government before providing them information.
After the situation arose, the company should have taken human side and apologised to the families
which they did later. This could have saved Yahoo from the criticism it faced from around the world.
Also, this would have saved Yahoo’s image.

Q5) Do Internet Companies have a special responsibility to defend individual rights to free
expression because of the business they are in?

Maintaining the practice of freedom and open communication can always help advance the
principles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today, people are increasingly turning to
internet to raise their voice on social issues. Thus, if they have freedom of expression offline, the
same should be provided online as well.

Delivering views and expressions on internet requires cooperative actions among all the companies.
Companies must promote the privacy of an individual on internet. But at the same time government
must resist the urge to clamp down. This is one of the biggest challenges faced in most of the
countries. We can see this clearly in the given case as well.

Internet companies should help people in raising their voice but at the same time nation’s safety and
privacy should also be considered. It is difficult to build this coalition but this is the only solution to
prevent such situations in future.

Q6) What were the responsibilities of Lantos and his fellow representatives in the US Congress?
Did they meet it?

This is very clear from the case that Lantos and his fellow representatives in US Congress did not
meet their responsibilities well. Saving or shielding Shi Tao was not their only prime focus. Their
main responsibility included drafting policies beforehand which would avoid such situations.

They did not accomplish their responsibilities as the case is still in the question till today. Many
internet companies still face these kinds of problems.