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July 29, 2007


Appalled Dude

It's quite interesting how the Chinese government requested for "relevant email content."

Can we assume that, to be able to comply with such requests, an email provider must keep track of messages' content?

If so, can we then assume people share their messages with two entities, the recipient and the provider, in a sort of automatic carbon copy?

A number of questions comes out naturally:

1. What is Yahoo's policy about message content storage? In other terms, is that legal to keep track of the content of an email?

2. Have they complied with Chinese request of sharing the abovementioned "relevant content"?
(If the Chinese journalist is serving 10 years in prison, we should assume that the government was able to collect some evidence against him...)

3. What about people's rights?

Not being an expert, I would like to find an answer to these questions.

M. Simon

I have a Yahoo account. My e-mails are kept on Yahoo's server.

I consider anything I write an open book. If not now later.

How can it be otherwise? Yahoo keeps the copies.


The way I heard it if and or when you sign into Yahoo there is a waver or yahoo policy that you have to accept the terms of (with a check box) in order to use their service. This allows them to give any of the emails you send through their service to any third party, without legal repercussions.

Not a Yank

This is a good reason to use OpenPGP


Frontline has aired what I would identify as an intriguing documentary, The Tank Man (2006), primarily regarding the Chinese-government-enforced cultural whitewash, in China.

The producers to the documentary had taken, as a keynote: The incident in Tienanmen square, and the moment at when the singular Chinese citizen stood defiantly before the tank of the Chinese army, halting it in its course.

The identity of that man is now like a black hole. Nothing is known either of his identity, nor of his whereabouts. More significantly, no word of that encounter now exists in Chinese cultural discourse -- they do not know of him, they have not seen his picture, and US companies are de-facto aiding the Chinese government in ensuring that they will not. Middle-class (?) kids are going through Chinese college, thence emerging into what mainstream culture, only partly aware of the real history of China.

and China is to be an ally to the US? Allied, on commerce -- corporations protecting "the bottom line" -- is there anything else, to it?

In the documentary, they mentioned a certain hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (109th Congress) in which representatives of Yahoo, Microsoft, Cisco, and Google were invited to make testimony, as about their companies' roles in assisting the Chinese government to maintain the said whitewash. Transcripts are available (HTML) (PDF, 8 MB) (Written responses by Yahoo) (Written responses by Mr. James Kieth).

They mentioned more than that, to be sure -- I just wanted to fish up those couple of leads, there. The House's web-site is not tops for usability.

Rebecca MacKinnon

Hi folks! For those of you who are visiting my blog for the first time courtesy of Glenn, welcome!

I've been writing about Yahoo! and its behavior in China, including the Shi Tao case, for the past year and a half so didn't go into a lot of the background of the case on this post. Just gave an update. For a good comprehensive overview of Yahoo!'s conduct in China see this section of a Human Rights Watch report that I helped write last year.

A good summary of the Shi Tao case is on the BBC site here.

Sean, the hearing you mention is the same hearing I cited in my post - the Yahoo general counsel's testimony I quoted was given then.

For those who are particularly interested in this issue, see the Yahoo and Corporate Responsibility categories of this blog for everything I know about this case and every possible bit of context, plus some.

M. Simon, I couldn't agree more with your view, and papertiger is absolutely right. Unless you're using OpenPGP as suggested by Not a Yank and/or other strong encryption, we should always assume that any e-mail we send is about as private as a postcard. Or certainly don't go expecting your e-mail to be more private than that if you're sending information that would really ruin your life if it got read by a third party.


Have I found someone with the same interest as I on the Tiananmen Square incident? Is it Sean??

I discredited the coverage of Tiananmen square by the PBS show Tank man several years ago. You can watch it again. In it was a man who claimed that the PLA had gunned down an ambulance. The corresponding video footage of it showed an ambulance running at high speed hitting a barrier. But the crowd reaction prior to the impact did not show gun shot reaction.


Also don’t worry, nobody died on June 4th on Tiananmen Square…

Video evidence: http://youtube.com/watch?v=igsW5yQ6428

Fast forward to 5:57 time.
(Movie clip time:5:57) Student leader (Hu dejian) said (translation from Mandarin):
Many people say that at Tiananmen square about 2,000 were shot or perhaps several hundred were
shot. On the square were tanks that crushed people and students etc. etc.
I would like to stress that I did not witness this a bit.

I wonder, do we need to make up lies to fight our enemies who lie? This only satisfies our temporary anger. But if this lie is exposed, then we will be in jeopardy because we will then be powerless to do anything else.


Here student leader DeJian who was on the square until the square was evacuated bears witness that not a single of his protestors died that day. That notion of tanks moving into the square to crush the students or fire aimlessly at them resulting in a mass slaugther of thousands of bodies on Tiananmen Square is nothing but a lie. A lie that was probably created by fellow student protestors to discredit the Chinese government. He warns them to not use such techniques.

Did you learn that from that PBS documentary? Probably not. So you should start questioning the impartiality of that documentary.

Watch the documentary that I link to above instead.

So what about the people who actually die on June 4? There was indeed confrontation but it happened elsewhere. The PLA had shown great restrain to the use of force including the tank man incident where the tank didnt' use force to remove the man. So I can only guess that the confrontation happened due to over emotional crowds taking matters into their own hands - throwing molokov cocktails at the PLA etc. etc. resulting in a necessary retaliation of force by the PLA. In the process, innocent bystandders get caught in the cross fire.

charles liu

Appalled Dude, have you heard of this thing called "National Security Letter"? That's right, we Americans are pretty much under the same rule.

Heck if your email is demanded by the FBI, the demand itself is a national secret. And if your ISP refuse or talk, they are guilty of some nebulous "material support" charge - kinda like China's "state secret" ain't it?


I hate Yahoo for this - they are collaborators.

I will never click a link to any Yahoo domain.

I call on others to do the same - in short a total boycott of Yahoo and all Yahoo products such as Flickr.

They honestly make me so angry I would hit them hard if I met them, scum, rats, grasses.

Michael Turton

emerging into what mainstream culture, only partly aware of the real history of China.

and China is to be an ally to the US? Allied, on commerce -- corporations protecting "the bottom line" -- is there anything else, to it?

No. The Council on Foreign Relations, the think tank that represents the US establishment, has basically declared China's future to be rosy, all systems go, etc. I just blogged on this:

Waldron demurs on CFR report. It's a disaster -- for the 23 million people of Taiwan, whom the CFR has basically elected to sell out, and for the 1.3 billion people of China, who are stuck with this regime for the foreseeable future. Our defeat in Iraq is more than just a disaster for the US and for Iraq, it is a major issue for all the places where US pressure might have helped shape positive outcomes.


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