I've written an article for this month's Far Eastern Economic Review titled Asia's Fight for Web Rights. It takes a look at how Yahoo! went from assisting in the imprisonment of four dissidents in 2003 and 2004, to being yelled at in Congress in 2006 and 2007, to Jerry Yang's apology and recent establishment of a human rights fund administered by human rights activist Harry Wu.
The article also examines how at least some other companies are trying to learn from Yahoo!'s early mistakes. It explores the different approaches and disagreements over how (or whether) Internet and telecommunications companies are capable of respecting their users' rights to free expression and privacy in markets like China - or in any market for that matter.
Respecting users' rights to free expression and privacy, I argue, should be an integral part of corporate social responsibility - along with respect for the environment, sustainable development, and humane labor practices. But don't sit around waiting for your rights to get respected:
Meanwhile, the rest of us should not simply sit around and wait for our Internet and email service providers, Web-hosting services, and mobile-phone carriers to do the right thing on their own. Technology users around the world have an interest in joining together to insist that the products and services with which we increasingly entrust our careers, our beliefs and the most intimate parts of our lives, will not sell us out because they feel they have “no choice” since all their competitors are selling out their users too.
Click here to read the full article. Feel free to leave your reactions in their comments section.
(Note: for an archive of posts I've written over the past few years about the Yahoo! China case, click here.)