Yahoo shareholders fail to condemn censorship

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Yahoo shareholders fail to condemn censorship

USA - Yahoo shareholders have overwhelmingly rejected proposals to stop censoring its Chinese customers and support human rights.

A proposal at the company's annual general meeting that the company adopt a global policy against censorship won only 15 per cent of the vote.

Another proposal to set up a human rights committee within the company to examine how it operates got just four per cent of the vote.

"It is very disappointing; we were very supportive of the proposals," said Steve Ballinger, a spokesman for Amnesty International.

"We will continue to put pressure on Yahoo and we will encourage our members to write to them to express their feelings on the issue. We have not given up on this in the slightest."

Amnesty issued a report last week that was highly critical of Yahoo, Google, Microsoft and Cisco for supporting censorship in China and around the world.

Yahoo has consistently claimed that it has to obey local laws in the countries in which it operates, despite the Chinese constitution guaranteeing free speech.

Reporters without Borders has alleged that Yahoo regularly works with the Chinese police and was involved in most of the cases where dissidents or journalists who annoyed the authorities have been jailed.

The company refused to testify at a special conference on the issue held by the US government Congressional Human Rights Caucus, preferring instead to send a statement.

"We do not consider the internet situation in China to be one of 'business as usual'," it said.

"Beyond commercial considerations, we believe that our services have promo ted personal expression and enabled far wider access to independent sources of information for hundreds of millions of individuals in China and elsewhere in the world."

Yahoo is also facing a legal challenge in the courts in California from a Chinese journalist who was sentenced to 10 years' forced labour after Yahoo helped with his arrest.
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