Worldwide: Amnesty applauds action from Yahoo shareholders on Internet repression

Amnesty International has today (11 June) expressed its support for two shareholder resolutions up for vote at tomorrow’s Yahoo! annual meeting in California, one calling on the company to oppose internet repression in countries such as China, and one requesting the creation of a corporate Board Committee on Human Rights.

Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Tim Hancock said:

"It's really important that companies are held to account for their actions overseas - especially when their activities are in such stark contrast with their principles.

“Yahoo! can't claim on the one hand that freedom of expression is central to its mission, and on the other provide both a censored product and release personal data leading to the arrest and imprisonment of Chinese dissidents. Yahoo!’s actions to date have been driven by its desire to increase earnings and prominence in the Chinese marketplace, not by human rights.

“Shareholders should voice their concerns on matters of such central importance as the human rights record of the company they have invested in, especially at a time when legal action against Yahoo! is proceeding in the United States alleging violations of human rights in China. These resolutions would help ensure that human rights are considered at the highest level of the company."

One prominent case which Amnesty International activists have been campaigning on in relation to Yahoo!’s activities is that of journalist Shi Tao, who is serving a 10-year sentence for sending an email summarising a Chinese Central Propaganda Department communiqué on how journalists should handle the 15th anniversary of the crackdown on the 1989 pro-democracy movement. Shi Tao's identity was discovered after Yahoo released the information to the Chinese authorities.

Shi Tao is kept under tight control, with family visits requiring special approval from the prison manager. He is not allowed to receive printed matter, including books or newspapers. In November 2006, the World Association of Newspapers awarded its annual Golden Pen of Freedom prize to him.

Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the role of Yahoo! in providing this information to the authorities, and more generally about the involvement of the company in the practice of government censorship in China.

Amnesty’s campaign on behalf of Shi Tao is part of the human rights organisation’s irrepressible.infocampaign which has been signed up to by more than 60,000 people. The campaign highlights the repression of internet users around the world and the collusion of companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! with the Chinese authorities to restrict access to information over the Internet.

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