Based on information provided by Yahoo, to the communist government of China, Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist was arrested and incarcerated for 10 years for the crime of leaking state secrets to outsiders (Chin). This is one of the many examples of democracy and press freedom on trial in a country that is the world’s biggest democracy but only in terms of population because the laws that have been enforced curtailing the freedom of expression severely delimit the quality of the said democracy. Yahoo’s involvement in his arrest bespeaks complacency and poor moral ethics and this is further evidence in the fact that they had initially denied knowledge of the action which clearly means they were ashamed them. This paper will endeavor to analyses and critique the Shi Tao vs. Yahoo case study by applying several moral frameworks through which the ethicalness of Yahoos actions will be critiqued. These frameworks are; the Utilitarian, the publicity and Principle of Human Dignity and Infinite Worth with the intention of proving that yahoo acted in an unethical way and betrayed its users by compromising Tao’s safety for the sake of sustaining their business interest in China.
Shi Tao, a journalist with China’s Business time news had posted information on how the government had intended to curtail the celebration of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Protest by ordering journalists and media houses not to address the matter. He posted the information on an online forum based in New York, consequently the Chines State bureau sought Yahoos help in apprehending him and the latter provided information that led to the location of his IP address and then to his office computer, after which he was arrested and convicted. After the conviction, reporters without boarders exposed yahoos role in the matter and although the firm initially denied any knowledge as to why they were asked from the information they later admitted. In justification, yahoo claimed that they were obliged to conform to the laws of the country which required they share information with the state. The firm nonetheless came under fire from various critiques who challenged the legitimacy and morality for their actions accusing them of acting as police informers on Dissidents. Lui Xiabo, one China’s prominent Chinese dissidents accused Yahoo of failing to respect the rights of Shi in because they let their business interests dull their moral sensibility (Dickie). Other critics said that if the firm acknowledges their actions were not ethical, they should be willing to pull out of the country because conforming to unethical laws made them no different from the regime. This issues had far reaching effects as the action of other firms such as google in China were also criticized since they are also complacent in letting the government censor the intent content in China. The study examines the solutions that have been proposed to deal with the issue such as having America come up with its own laws against undemocratic practices so American firms are not compelled to expose their clients information. The study concludes with an example of Google’s attempt to fight censorship which has seen its searches in mainland China limited to products sporting goods and a few maps only (Danny and Neil 221).