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Yahoo! exec apologizes for giving Congress false information on China data handover

[JURIST] Yahoo! [corporate website] General Counsel Michael Callahan apologized to members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Friday for failing to clarify his testimony before the committee regarding Yahoo's involvement in providing information to the Chinese government about Shi Tao [JURIST report], who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for divulging state secrets abroad. Callahan testified during a February 2006 hearing that Yahoo's subsidiary in China provided the Chinese government information about Shi without knowing why the information was requested, but later that year discovered that the information was requested as part of a Chinese investigation into state secrets. Callahan apologized for not directly informing the committee of the new information. Committee Chairman Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) [official website] has scheduled a hearing [HCFA materials; JURIST report] for November 6 on the issue, and both Callahan and Yahoo! CEO Jerry Yang will be asked to testify.

Shi Tao was a reporter for the Contemporary Business News in China who also urged political reform. In April 2004, he used his Yahoo! email account to send a message to a pro-democracy website in the US. After requesting and receiving personal information about Shi from Yahoo!, the Chinese government charged him with providing state secrets to a foreign entity. He was convicted in April 2005 and sentenced to ten years in prison. Reuters has more.

In April, the World Organization for Human Rights USA [advocacy website] filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against Yahoo! on behalf of an incarcerated Chinese activist, alleging that the company aided and abetted human rights violations committed by the Chinese government by providing Chinese officials with information, including e-mail records and user ID numbers, that helped them to identify pro-democracy activists. A 2006 Amnesty International report criticized [JURIST report] Yahoo! and other Internet companies for so-called "Internet oppression," alleging that Yahoo!, Microsoft, and Google have been complicit in efforts by the Chinese government to silence government critics in violation of stated corporate policies.

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