"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with
power to endanger the public liberty." - - - - John Adams

Monday, September 3, 2012

Chinese "Yahoo" Internet Dissident Freed

Yahoo effectively worked as a police informant for the Communist Party
  • Businesses work hand-in-hand with governments around the world to censor the Internet.
  • As long as there is money to be made businesses will always work with governments to protect the corrupt politicians.

The Chinese dissident who served 10 years after being convicted of "state subversion" on evidence provided by the American Internet giant Yahoo is under sharp restrictions, his wife said, after he was released and returned home.

The dissident, Wang Xiaoning, 62, was released from the Beijing No. 2 prison. Just after 2 a.m., he was taken to a local police station and told that he was not to speak the news media, not to participate in any protests or demonstrations, and not to give any speeches, and that he would be closely monitored, his wife, Yu Ling, said in a telephone interview.
“This was not a condition of his release, but he was told to follow these rules,” she said.

Beijing Regime Tightens "Stability Preservation" 

Wang Xiaoning is originally from China’s northeast Liaoning province, and used to be an engineer in China’s enormous weapons industry. Wang had a long history of pro-democracy activity and protest against China’s single-party state: He was detained by authorities in the crackdown following the 1989 massacre of protesters in Tiananmen Square, and for years was viewed by Chinese authorities as a subversive figure promoting disunity.

Nonetheless, Wang continued to advocate for a multi-party system in China, and played a significant role in founding a fledgling political party — the China Third Way Party, a reference to China’s official “One country, two systems” policy. Former Chinese leader Deng Xoaoping advocated this stance in regard to incorporating capitalist regions like Macau, Hong Kong, and even Taiwan.

Wang, a former engineer, distributed pro-democracy writings using e-mail and Yahoo forums, often anonymously. He was detained on Sept. 1, 2002, and convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” using information the Chinese authorities received from Yahoo.

10 years in prison courtesy of Yahoo
and the Communist Party.
Around the same time, Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist, was convicted of providing state secrets to overseas entities also based on evidence provided by Yahoo’s subsidiary in Hong Kong. He is still in prison.

Lawmakers and human rights activists sharply criticized Yahoo for providing information to the Chinese authorities, and for cooperating in investigations involving dissidents.
Yahoo eventually apologized for its role in the case and settled a lawsuit brought by the families of several Chinese activists, paying an undisclosed amount of compensation.     (New York Times)

Yahoo’s role and settlement

Wang Xiaoning was convicted almost entirely on the basis of information turned over to Chinese authorities by Yahoo’s wholly-owned Hong Kong subsidiary. The data connected the messages with Wang Xiaoning’s computer and identified Wang Xiaoning as the owner of the Yahoo account used to disseminate pro-democracy materials and a “large” number of email messages.
Yahoo China also turned over information regarding activists Jiang Lijun (arrested in 2002 and sentenced to four years) and Li Zhi (arrested in 2003 and sentenced to eight years). In 2004, Yahoo Hong Kong gave Chinese authorities identifying information for the journalist Shi Tao, who had used his personal Yahoo email account to describe an order from Chinese authorities that news media not report anything having to do with the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the Falun Gong movement, or any calls for political change.

The Party is watching your text messages.

When Yahoo turned over the information, Chinese authorities arrested Shi Tao and seized his computer. Unlike Wang Xiaoning, Shi Tao was accused of revealing state secrets; however, like Wang Xiaoning, he was also sentenced to 10 years in prison, to be followed by a two-year suspension of political rights.

Yahoo’s Hong Kong subsidiary never asked why the Chinese government wanted the information about its users, nor did it question the legality of the demands, despite the fact it had good reason to know why the Chinese government was requesting the information. Yahoo simply handed it over. These actions — or lack of action — led to organizations like Reporters Without Borders accusing Yahoo of effectively working as a police informant.

It’s worth noting that Yahoo is hardly alone: Google and Microsoft (through its MSN service) have also been accused of providing information to Chinese authorities that has been used to bring charges against pro-democracy activists.

Yahoo reached a financial settlement with both families. The terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

Read more: (Digital Trends / International)

See our related article on Internet Freedom:  THE FEDERALIST - "Indian Internet attacks continue."

Internet Censorship in China

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