Wednesday, through his wife, a Chinese political prisoner, Wang Xiaoning, sued Yahoo. The suit accuses Yahoo of handing over communications which indirectly lead to the prisoner’s brutal beating by the Chinese government. The lawsuit, filed in California, falls under the seventeen 1789 Alien Tort Claims Act, allowing foreigners to sue in U.S. courts for violations of international law. Most of the international law violations come about from gross injustices with human rights and geneocide.
Several legal analysts feel that this will be a tough case to win. The first hurdle to overcome will be to prove that the Chinese government actually beat Mr. Xiaoning. Not that many of us in the free world dispute this accusation, however I find it very unlikely that the Chinese government videos their political prisoner beatings (and if they do I would be surprised if they turned that over to the California courts).
The second problem Xiaonings’ will run against is proving that Yahoo’s information actually was the cause of the beating. The suit is built upon a lot of unfounded or unprovable accusations, making it an uphill battle to win. However, whether the case is won or lost the real difficult questions come from Yahoo’s responsibility to China.
Jim Cullinan, a spokesman for Yahoo, comments on this particular situation by stating, “Companies doing business in China are forced to comply with Chinese law.” Hmm. . . I don’t know if I agree with this statement at all Mr. Cullinan. How differently would this country be if our founding fathers had felt the same way? Granted I recognize that Yahoo is not in China to oppose their government. More than likely they wouldn’t be allowed to stay long if they were.
However, this makes the fourth case against Yahoo in providing information to the Chinese government that led to a ten year conviction or longer. All four cases dealt with freedom of speech. I am certain that Yahoo’s recent gift given to Georgetown University to focus on researching the link between international values and Internet technologies should help figure things out. Yet, how many more will suffer before Yahoo recognizes that it has more of a responsibility to the Chinese people than just giving them the power to search?
This post is part of my Yahoo news on Podango. If you would like to hear daily Podcasts on Yahoo and other Internet sites visit www.TheLatest.At
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