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Yahoo business ethics sorely lacking

The latest news that Yahoo turned over private emails to the Chinese government which led to the conviction and ten-year sentence of Shi Tao, an editorial department head at the Contemporary Business News in China's Hunan province turns my stomach.

Yahoo claims, according to Dan Nystedt , at the IDG News Service, "Just like any other global company, Yahoo must ensure that its local country sites must operate within the laws, regulations and customs of the country in which they are based," said Mary Osako, a Yahoo Spokeswoman.

"Does the fact that [Yahoo] operates under Chinese law free it from all ethical considerations?" asked a press advocacy group called Reporters without Borders.

Tao's crime was sending an email to a New York-based Web site regarding the Chinese government warning to its governmental representatives to watch for dissident activity during the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

If Yahoo, and there are plenty of other companies as well, are not expected to have a conscience when it comes to doing business with whomever, then should we believe that they have a conscience when it comes to dealing with us, right here in the U.S.?

We all talk about different corporate cultures and how it pervades everything a company does. Well, if a company's behavior reflects the attitude that making money is more important than ethical behavior doesn't that attitude become part and parcel of their corporate culture? Doesn't that tell us about what they believe in and how they do business?

When a company behaves like that and then turns around and tells us the customer comes first is there any reason why we should believe them?

Shi Tao was a customer wasn't he?

Do you think Yahoo will treat your emails with anymore more discretion if it threatens their bottom line?

This is a major issue for every corporation, especially as companies more often than not are partnering with totalitarian governments.

It should not be left to some lower level PR person to make glib pronouncements that, "just like any other global company, Yahoo must ensure that its local country sites must operate within the laws, regulations and customs of the country in which they are based."

Shi Tao and the rest of us deserve better.

Date posted: September 8, 2005 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 4458