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Censorship Your Rights Online

Yahoo Rejects Anti-Censorship Proposal 150

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the didn't-know-yahoo-was-still-even-in-business dept.
Matthew Skala writes "The BBC reports that Yahoo! has rejected a shareholder proposal to adopt an anti-censorship policy, as well as one to set up a human rights committee to review the impact of Yahoo!'s operations in places like China. The interesting proposals are numbers 6 and 7 in the proxy statement available through EDGAR. This news comes on the heels of jailed Chinese reporter Shi Tao, suing Yahoo! for its involvement in his conviction, and Google's rejection of a similar proposal. The anti-censorship proposal was submitted by the same groups (several New York City pension funds) as the Google proposal. The proxy statement also includes the Board's recommendations — "strongly oppose[ing]" both proposals — with explanations of their reasoning."
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Yahoo Rejects Anti-Censorship Proposal

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  • The Board's Response (Score:2, Informative)

    by casings (257363) *
    Board of Directors Statement and Recommendation AGAINST Stockholder Proposal

    Yahoo! shares the proponent's commitment to human rights, and as described in more detail in the board's statement in opposition to proposal no. 6 in this proxy statement, the Company's management team has already instituted practices and initiatives that are designed to assess the implications of the Company's activities and policies and to protect and advance essential freedoms, such as freedom of expression and privacy rights.

    To
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by glesga_kiss (596639)

      Board of Directors Statement and Recommendation AGAINST Stockholder Proposal

      This is always the case at an AGM. I've never seen the board recommend FOR a stockholder proposal, nor have I ever seen one voted in. They are a waste of time regardless of the company.

    • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:33AM (#19490939)

      Yahoo! shares the proponent's commitment to human rights

      ...as long as it doesn't cost us any money.

      • As an active flickr participant I can testify that Yahoo is very willingt o engage in Censorship on behalf of any country if it's bottom line is threatened by not censoring. And no it doesn't have to be that way Zoomr for example has a clear and unabiguious anti censorship principle and I'd move there in a second if I didn't have hundreds of photos with over 10,000 views, didn't admin 3 groups one with over a thousand members and over 10,000 photos, sigh. Fuck censorship!
  • by Mockylock (1087585) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @09:55AM (#19490415) Homepage
    China's proposal for anti-censorship against Google's said proposal is to propose a censorship proposal proposition. In response the proposal set by China, Google proposed to set a an anti-proposal toward Yahoo's proposal to create a proposal against the China anti-censorship proposal. These proposals were proposed as a proposition to anti-proposialism, not censorship.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Rob T Firefly (844560)
      Yes, I'll marry you!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Mockylock (1087585)
      This post was rated as "overrated" when it wasn't even rated. So, does that mean the "overrated" rating was overrated? So, therefore it's not overrated?
      • by TapeCutter (624760) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:25AM (#19490807) Journal
        Is there an echo in your basement?
      • by asninn (1071320)
        At the risk of getting modded off-topic (or maybe informative *coughcough*), "overrated" applies to the score of a comment, not the moderations done to it - that is, the rating rather than the ratings.
  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @09:57AM (#19490449)

    Here's what I don't understand, if Yahoo! stops complying with local laws, as these shareholders suggest, wouldn't it be purely and simply out of business in China? Could any company violate the Chinese laws and keep working in China, thus providing Chinese citizens a breach in the Great Firewall?

    Because that's where it doesn't make sense to me, but maybe my analyse is a bit over-simplistic, if Yahoo! tries not to apply censorship laws, then it won't be able to operate in China and thus it wouldn't be any good for either Yahoo! or Chinese web-surfers, right? Or did I get something wrong?

    • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:06AM (#19490557)
      Indeed, you got it exactly right. Yahoo's board further said that they think they have more leverage and actually promote free speech if they stay engaged, rather than taking their ball and going home.
      • They're shareholders. Why should they concern themselves with anything other than the company's profit? I know this sounds harsh and cynical, but this is the simple truth behind the public company concept. Whatever lofty reasons they might give for their decision, the real reason is that losing business in China would mean losing profits.

        • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:26AM (#19490823) Homepage
          Because shareholders are human beings with thoughts, ideals and hopefully some conscience. The very idea that shareholders ONLY care about the end-result profitability of a company is and always has been a ridiculous assertion.

          The proposal has been made and the board of directors have recommended voting against it proposal brought about by other shareholders. So it is the directors who are placing profit above human rights and not the shareholders at large. The very idea that the shareholders at large are responsible is ridiculous. The people responsible for the decisions made are far fewer and less obscure than you are trying to indicate.
          • by plover (150551) * on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:49AM (#19491169) Homepage Journal

            The proposal has been made and the board of directors have recommended voting against it proposal brought about by other shareholders. So it is the directors who are placing profit above human rights and not the shareholders at large. The very idea that the shareholders at large are responsible is ridiculous. The people responsible for the decisions made are far fewer and less obscure than you are trying to indicate.

            It's not ridiculous at all. The directors have only recommended that the shareholders vote against the proposal. It's still up to the shareholders themselves to vote to make the final decision. The shareholders are ultimately responsible, not the board.

            That said, boards of directors traditionally have a lot of sway in how the shareholders vote. Many companies are owned largely by various mutual funds and not by individual people, and the shares owned by the funds are voted for them by the fund manager. And fund managers almost always vote the way the board of directors recommend, meaning this might be the kiss of death for the proposal.

            The shareholders do have another option, though. They can divest themselves from a stock they consider morally repugnant. This was done with modest success back in the 1980s to companies who did business with apartheid Africa; But mutual funds have grown much larger since then, and a sell-off by concerned individuals would probably have little effect on Yahoo!s stock price.

            There are also mutual funds that pledge to invest in only socially responsible companies (can't think of their names right now, but they're pretty easy to find.) If they own any Yahoo! stock today, their fund managers would probably vote their shares for the proposal, and if it failed to pass they would probably divest themselves.

            • by Asic Eng (193332)
              The shareholders are ultimately responsible, not the board.

              I'd bet that not a single board member is so poor that he couldn't take the risk of getting fired over being anti-censorship and look for another job. If they do decide to instead direct the company without a sense of morals they don't do it because they are forced. There is nobody who could apply any pressure to them beyond - "oh I can't by another Porsche this year". So if they do suggest a policy like that they do it based on their own free wil

              • by plover (150551) *
                I'm not trying to absolve the board of blame. I am saying though that the blame is also owned by the individual shareholders, and not just the board.

                The thing that got me when Google entered the Chinese market was their idea that "we can't effect change in China if we're not inside China." So they compromised their morals in order to provide the Chinese people with a Tienanmen-free search engine, and tried to do something controversial like tagging the results with "These results have been censored by th

          • Because shareholders are human beings with thoughts, ideals and hopefully some conscience. The very idea that shareholders ONLY care about the end-result profitability of a company is and always has been a ridiculous assertion.

            It's also possible that the shareholders recognize that people like me will boycott Yahoo! over this issue and that's bad for profits. The ethicality is sometimes about which issues you chose to make a stink about.
        • Shareholders are people. Some people put human rights above money. An amazing concept I know, but its true.
        • by MBGMorden (803437)
          You're confusing your logic. The unintelligent, non-human "company" is the only force that moves without reason nor care of consequences towards profit. The individual shareholders are indeed capable of using their wealth and power to further whatever goals, charities, or purposes they want.

          Why is it that most people on here (and indeed, lots of places) go out of their way to justify just not giving a damn about other people? If we want to be selfish and care not for others, then just do it openly. The
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Broken scope (973885)
          Because company image can have significant impact on company profits?
          • by jez9999 (618189)
            Sure, but not all morally repugnant things damage company image in a meaningful way... especially if they happen offshore.
        • by Applekid (993327)
          Unless, somehow, they could generate more profit by being the only multinational corporation with a strong stance on censorship.

          I think if Yahoo took that stand it'd be a great F.U. to Google. Whether that F.U. can turn into money down the road is anyone's guess.

          Would you stop using Google things (maps, gmail, etc) if Yahoo had those tools AND were anti-censorship? It's ok... I don't know if I would either.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Mister Whirly (964219)
            "Would you stop using Google things (maps, gmail, etc) if Yahoo had those tools AND were anti-censorship?"

            Hell no. I choose my email, maps, search engines, etc. based on functionality, not politics.
      • by aminorex (141494)
        It's difficult to see how one can promote free speech by helping to imprision anyone who says something the CCCP doesn't like. In fact, I'll go one step further: If you claim to be promoting free speech by engaging in censorship, you are a liar.

    • by Aladrin (926209)
      No, you got it exactly right. I'm surprised you haven't been modded down yet for it, though. Every time I say that, someone replies with 'Yahoo shouldn't help evil!' and 'if those people didn't want to be evil, they shouldn't work for a company that deals with evil countries!' and 'it's better to sacrifice yourself than someone else' even though it probably wasn't the employees IN China that even got to make the decision.

      Yahoo's in an impossible position. If they leave China, they've abandoned people. I
      • by NMerriam (15122)

        Yahoo's in an impossible position. If they leave China, they've abandoned people.


        Really? I think Yahoo could use this newfangled Internet to set up a Chinese-language site outside of the Chinese government's jurisdiction. If the Chinese government chooses to cripple their own economy by cutting off it's workforce from modern tools, that's a choice they should have to make. We certainly don't need to be volunteering to come in and help them.
    • by casings (257363) *
      I believe you are correct: If they stopped censorship then they would not be allowed to operate in China. Which everyone agrees isn't good for yahoo monetarily. However, their presence is not exactly good for the Chinese people either because the company is opening the Chinese people up to what many in our world see as human rights violations by reporting them to the government.

      If I were a citizen I wouldn't want the company acting as government shills. And since I am a stockholder, I am going to act on my
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mdm-adph (1030332)
      Part of me wonders if there's a "breaking point" -- a point where Chinese officials will start loving money so much that they actually won't kick out a company that decides to take a stand against them.
      • by 4D6963 (933028)

        Yeah, when you think about the problem some more, imagine that Google, Yahoo and Microsoft ceased any activity in China as the aforementioned shareholders suggested, maybe at some point the Chinese government would feel forced to bend their rules for these companies to come back in order to not become technologically retarded.

        Or maybe more alternatives to these sites (iirc the #1 search engine in China is a Chinese search engine which obviously complies with the laws) could develop and ultimately Google, Ya

        • by plover (150551) *

          maybe at some point the Chinese government would feel forced to bend their rules for these companies to come back in order to not become technologically retarded.

          The only reason Microsoft deals with China at all is to try to stem the tide of piracy. If Microsoft gave China the finger, China would respond in kind. Factories across China would start spitting out pirated copies of every Microsoft application in every language, giving them away and flooding the world markets with free copies of Office, ju

          • by 4D6963 (933028)

            They certainly do not care about their people, but they undoubtfully care about their economy, and most notably, its tremendous growth. My point about technological retardation was that to have an underdeveloped Internet in a country could directly harm the economy, and its growth. Just imagine a country cloned on the USA except far behind the original when it comes to Internet. See how much the IT industry participates to the economy of industrial countries (or whatever they're called now)? My point was, I

      • Part of me wonders if there's a "breaking point" -- a point where Chinese officials will start loving money so much that they actually won't kick out a company that decides to take a stand against them.

        I don't think that will happen. I think the problem lies in that while many Chinese politicians like money, they also like raw power. Power can come from having money, yes, but power also comes from other sources, such as title, role, authority, family relations, etc. The trouble is that if Internet/Web-based

    • by elrous0 (869638) *
      Yes, just as they would be out of business in Pakistan if they refused to turn over the identities of adulterous women so they could be stoned to death.
    • by f1055man (951955)
      You're confused. There is no rule of law in China. It's whatever the random party official says it is at that particular moment. Noncompliance with a party official can result in any number of things, which is exactly why Yahoo doesn't do it. They are moral and ethical cowards. If people can seriously debate whether a censored web search is worth sending people to the gulag (Chinese equivalent: Laogai) then our society is far more fucked up than I thought it was.
    • by NMerriam (15122)

      wouldn't it be purely and simply out of business in China?

      Well, yes and no. It seems easy to say they'd be gone, but of course they wouldn't really. Yahoo.com is not going anywhere, and Yahoo is perfectly capable of setting up a Chinese version of their site outside of China's borders.

      If Yahoo and Google both simply made Chinese sites they'd be putting the burden on Chinese officials to censor them, rather than volunteering to do it themselves. The net effect might be exactly the same as it is today -- af

      • by mrraven (129238)
        Very insightful alas this discussion is weeks old and I have no mod points but you deserve a +5 for saying what no one else had the nerve to say that corporate greed is actively enabling communist censorship here. Double plus bad. :(
    • by crucini (98210)
      It's a valid point. But one of the ideas in the proposal was to only comply with governments as mandated by law. Some of these human rights incidents seem to involve companies either censoring or informing on citizens in response to an unofficial request. This seems to leave human rights activists with no traction, since every government on the planet has employees who could make an unofficial request.

      If Yahoo/Google insisted on a formal (though secret) order before censoring/wiretapping, would this get
    • by MojoStan (776183)

      Here's what I don't understand, if Yahoo! stops complying with local laws, as these shareholders suggest, wouldn't it be purely and simply out of business in China?...

      ...if Yahoo! tries not to apply censorship laws, then it won't be able to operate in China and thus it wouldn't be any good for either Yahoo! or Chinese web-surfers, right?

      Here's what I don't understand: why doesn't Yahoo just shut down the few specific services in China (e-mail, Yahoo Groups) that can result in pro-democracy critics being tortured in jail. Doesn't Yahoo have about a zillion other services that, while censored, will not force them to give up political dissidents to the torturers?

  • by superpulpsicle (533373) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:00AM (#19490489)
    This is proof that communist power > capitalist power. Simply for the fact that US corporations always have to yield to money. The moment money can't fix a problem, they are stuck. Will google and yahoo be able to ever bribe the communist party enough? I doubt it. I feel bad for the Chinese citizens who are censored in the middle of all this.
    • Well, I disagree with you there... because if it wasn't for the power of capitalism, American companies like Google and Yahoo! wouldn't exist, or wouldn't be strong enough, to even be over in China competing with Chinese companies. How many Chinese companies do you see in the US? Those that there are, are operating on a capitalist system.... another power of the capitalist system - you can't export communism (not using the cold war "export democracy" definition here, but rather that to be communist, your
      • by djupedal (584558)
        "Further, every time an American company goes over there, we break down the barriers just a little more.

        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH A HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA ; STOP IT! You're killing me.... :)

        Foreign concerns have been doing business w/China for thousands of years, bud. Barriers down? Which ones...please tell me. England was here for hundreds of years - gold and silver came in by the ton and rice on English frigates...spices and porcelain want out the same wa
        • by djupedal (584558)
          gold and silver came in by the ton and rice on English

          gold and silver came in by the ton on English frigates...rice, spices and porcelain want out the same way.
    • by mi (197448)

      Will google and yahoo be able to ever bribe the communist party enough?

      No — especially since our particular brand of Capitalism makes all bribery illegal — including that of foreign governments [wikipedia.org].

      Corporations are good at and are judged on making money. Aiding human rights is nowhere in the picture. Until the lawmakers pass some kind of FCPA-2.0 — which would outlaw cooperation with oppressing regimes the same way FCPA outlaws bribery — no corporation will shoot itself in the stomac

      • by HungWeiLo (250320)
        When I was at both Weyerhaeuser and Honeywell, I had to sit through week-long corporate orientations for new employees. In both companies, it was explained that sometimes, a "gift" or "token contribution" is a widely accepted practice in some cultures and therefore part of doing business in such cultures. (i.e. it's OK - it's not _really_ bribery)

        So no, the FCPA is practically on-paper only. Corporations obviously thumb their collective noses at it if they plainly justify it in their orientation PowerPoint
        • by mi (197448)

          So no, the FCPA is practically on-paper only. Corporations obviously thumb their collective noses at it if they plainly justify it in their orientation PowerPoint slides.

          It is all in comparision... Other Western countries don't have an FCPA-like law even on paper. And no, it is not an "on-paper only" law — there were and are prosecutions under the act. Here [steptoe.com] are some lawyers describing themselves as experts on defending against such prosecutions, for example...

    • by aminorex (141494)
      It's not the censorship that troubles the people of China. It's the bill sent to your family, to pay for the bullet used to execute you. It's the forced abortions. It's the two years of torture in a disease-ridden prison camp without the benefit of an opportunity to face your accuser in an imparital court. It's the removal of your land and livelihood, without compensation. It's the gloating faces of the limosine riders who poison your water.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        It's the forced abortions.

        I agree with every other point you made. But I don't see what allowing China to overpopulate to the point they can't feed themselves and collapse into plague that rapidly spreads from China to every other part of the world would accomplish.

        • by aminorex (141494)
          I'd like to hear your opinion again after you've had your child ripped out of your belly, and been forcibly sterilized. Or perhaps after this happened to your wife or sister. Mutilation and murder are not a form of population control. They are a form of mutilation and murder.
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            I'd like to hear your opinion again after you've had your child ripped out of your belly, and been forcibly sterilized. Or perhaps after this happened to your wife or sister. Mutilation and murder are not a form of population control. They are a form of mutilation and murder.

            Given that it is not actually clear that abortion is murder, perhaps you'd care to stick your rhetoric someplace warm, stinky, and dark.

            I think that people who can't control their reproductive systems should be forcibly sterilized.

            A

            • by aminorex (141494)
              You are beneath most animals, in that most animals would not do such things as you endorse to others of their kind. Being both inhumane and intelligent, you are, therefore, a dangerous monster.

              It is very sad to see someone twist the idea of a woman's right to personal corporeal autonomy into an amoral indifference to killing people.

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                You are beneath most animals, in that most animals would not do such things as you endorse to others of their kind.

                You are an ignorant nimrod making statements you don't understand.

                When rabbits overpopulate, they have a certain tendency to chew off the genitals of their rivals. When rats overpopulate they can do the same thing, but usually just kill each other. We are animals like any other and you don't know one fucking thing about being an animal. Obviously.

                It is very sad to see someone twist the idea

    • by Animats (122034)

      This is proof that communist power > capitalist power.

      As Lenin put it, "The West will sell us the rope to hang them with."

  • Yahoo! is deeply concerned by efforts of some governments to restrict communication and control access to information. Yahoo! also firmly believes the continued presence and engagement of companies like Yahoo! in these markets is a powerful force in promoting openness and reform.

    Translation: Yahoo will give a brief second's thought to the plight of the common person in China before diving back into their Money Bin, Scrooge McDuck style.

  • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@HORSEop ... minus herbivore> on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:02AM (#19490519) Journal

    Let's face it, these rejections are driven by China. No, the government of China is not leaning on Google, Yahoo!, et. al., but is making it quite clear that the continued right to operate in China via Chinese web connections requires some... alterations. And because China is seen as such a lucrative market given its population size, non of these companies is willing to put itself in a position to be banned by the Chinese, ceding dominance of the market to its competitors.

    I'll be most impressed if one of them decides to stand up and say "enough is enough". The fact is, the population of China is large, but they only comprise 1.3 billion of the 6+ billion people on the planet. A significant fraction, but not enough to justify turning their back on principle.

    • by moranar (632206)
      > "The fact is, the population of China is large, but they only comprise 1.3 billion
      > of the 6+ billion people on the planet. A significant fraction, but not enough to
      > justify turning their back on principle."

      Considering they are already competing for another fraction, and that the remaining fraction is mostly devoid of Internet access, I'd say China is pretty important to them.

      I also posit that you haven't really imagined how many people are 1.3 billion.
    • by dash2 (155223)
      What fraction would be enough to justify turning their back on principle?
  • Yahoo! is going to conduct business in as many countries as it can, and to do so, it is going to comply with such laws as that country has. No other major company does any differently... just as Google didn't. To think that a company should say "no we're not going to participate in this MASSIVE market because we don't like the [moral] limits they place on us, which don't impact our financials at all," is silly. We should just let in house Chinese search engines take over that market? I think not. I'd
    • No other major company does any differently... just as Google didn't.

      I love that justification. Yahoo points at Google, Google points at Microsoft and Microsoft points at Yahoo. Each of them use the other to justify their actions, when in reality the cause is their own greed.

      To think that a company should say "no we're not going to participate in this MASSIVE market because we don't like the [moral] limits they place on us, which don't impact our financials at all," is silly.

      Well call me silly, because I believe should do the right thing over the legal thing.

    • by svendsen (1029716)
      So what if there was a law saying that a company working in China must have its Board of Directors each rape a child every year. That would be ok right because they are complying with the laws of that country?
    • .... fell appart with collaborationist German companies in WWII.

      There is a point when your profits no longer take precedence in the presence of clear moral evil.
  • by Wubby (56755) <tduvally@duvallyCOUGAR.com minus cat> on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @10:04AM (#19490539) Homepage Journal
    Is it just me, or is this the clear limitation of "markets"? Markets are great for things like pushing down cost, creating diversity of products (through competition), and distributing wealth (if not manipulated).

    But when it comes to profit vs. principle, it seems to hit a wall. Is this the reason markets can't stop human trafficing and a gov't has to step in. Any of you collije edumacated E-conomists want to correct me here?
    • by danpsmith (922127) on Wednesday June 13, 2007 @11:43AM (#19492089)

      But when it comes to profit vs. principle, it seems to hit a wall. Is this the reason markets can't stop human trafficing and a gov't has to step in. Any of you collije edumacated E-conomists want to correct me here?

      I'm not an economist, but this is why you can't have laissez faire capitalism to begin with. Letting the market take over human rights is precisely where the government should step in. To me if you are a multi-national corporation that operates and sells goods in the US, you should have to follow certain standards. Outsourcing should meet human rights standards, and any dealings in other companies should have to be held up to a standard. If given the choice between morality and money the corporation will always pick money as has been shown time and time again, the idea is that it's the government that has to force the corporation's hand in doing the "right thing."

      Someone said it before and I'm probably misquoting them, but it comes down to I don't give a shit what the CEO of Ford thinks about emissions or his record on environmentalism, just like I don't give a shit what the CEO of Yahoo! thinks about human rights. I'm sure that some of these people are great people with great intentions, but regulation of the environment and human rights should be the government's job, because these things don't have pricetags, and the "free market" can't solve these problems. We shouldn't be expected to accept moral "handouts" from CEOs who decide that they will no longer do the wrong thing, we should be able to tell them to do the right thing, or quit doing business with us, without dollars and cents being the measurement.

    • Free markets are just places to buy and sell things competitively.

      If humans desire something, and other humans have it, it will be sold in a free market.

      This does not impugn free markets or capitalism, only those humans and their desires.
      • by Wubby (56755)
        Oh, I agree! What I was countering was the view that the market "can fix anything". Many of those who hold that view rant how government interference with the market is BAD(tm) and unrestrained markets are almost holy. Markets are tools, and can be used for positive or negative effects. Markets, being complex systems, can actually do both at the same time. At which point it's about perspective. Poor Guatamalan farm worker can't affort food after working 3000* hrs a week, while we get good, cheap banan
        • What I was countering was the view that the market "can fix anything"?

          What those people mean is markets are like water, and will seek their own level, if left unrestrained. The problem is most people are myopic, and don't have the stomach for what this can mean in the short term.

          Poor Guatamalan farm worker can't affort food after working 3000* hrs a week, while we get good, cheap bananas.

          Most of the 'poor farmers' are lucky to have any jobs at all, and that's not the fault of free markets, it's the fault of
          • by Wubby (56755)
            Free markets require letting some inefficient parts of the market fail

            Ah, but the original point I was making is that the immoral parts are not always equal to the inefficient parts. Slavery in the US was rather efficient for the cotton industry, or so it seemed to them at the time. They had zero market incentive to give that up, and it require extra-market forces to ensure that they did.

            Your water analogy is apt. Water doesn't only seek it's own level, it seeks the lowest level.

            What are some trade barri
            • Slavery in the US was rather efficient for the cotton industry, or so it seemed to them at the time. They had zero market incentive to give that up, and it require extra-market forces to ensure that they did.

              Yes, that is how slavery ended in America, is that the only way slavery could have ended?

              Or if we didn't go to war, and the distastefulness of slavery continued to foment in the North, could the North have said, we're no longer buying cotton-based goods from the South, if they're made with cotton from s
  • Because they are obviously using this phrase as their guiding principle:

    "Is this Good for the Company?"

    This way, when ever Yahoo has to make a decision about human rights or censorship, they ask themselves, "Is this Good for the Company?"

    Oh, and remember: next Friday... is Hawaiian shirt day. So, you know, if you want to, go ahead and wear a Hawaiian shirt and jeans.
  • Most shareholders of large companies are institutional investors (e.g., mutual and hedge funds, banks, etc.) or executives/board members of the company. Any proposal that creates additional controversy or additional work for the company will generally be voted down by these shareholders, which explains why the anti-censorship proposal got only 15% voting in favor and the human rights committee proposal only got 4%.

    Yes, I realize that censorship isn't a very controversial topic to you or me, but it is from
  • See your business pages for examples. We no longer liberate people, we liberate markets. It's why the threat to oil in Iraq is met with guns and why almost 20 years after Tiananmen so many companies are moving into China. Lip service outrage is paid to things like harvesting Falun Gong prisoners organ because the market is safe for Wal-Mart and McDicks. Ditto that immolation of women is ignored in India (when they marry outside their caste etc) because it is a good market that can be moved into by companies
    • by aminorex (141494)
      Indeed, I can't see how this can change, until a contrary incentive is provided. For example, were company boards subject to attrition to assassination, I think the picture would change very, very rapidly indeed.
  • The shareholder proposal is worded in a much more straightforward way than the Board's response... no surprise there. The response, which is trying to convince other shareholders not to vote for the proposal, is chock full of weasel words that never promise to do anything, only to try to do it. As in "Oh well, we tried, better luck next time... *shrug*". However, the Board says a few things pretty clearly if you dig through the document. Here's some choice quotes:

    Yahoo! believes private industry alone canno

  • I for one am fed up with this company. I've been holding some YHOO since '97 (should have sold it all back in '00). If this company refuses to provide us with any significant gains, refuses to listen to shareholders, and continues to sell-out human rights for market share in China, I will be all too pleased to see it purged from my portfolio.

    I would really love to sell these shares for a penny each, if only to tank the stock as hard as possible. I know this is a pipe dream, but I'm angry, and I feel betr
  • By setting up a business in a country that commits human rights violations, and then participating in them (e.g. turning over the names of dissidents when you know how political prisoners are treated), surely you can't just use the excuse that you are complying with local laws.
  • We can't really expect individual companies to adopt these proposals. If these proposals have any real teeth, then they could cost the company money, and then the company will lose against competitors that don't adopt expensive do-gooder policies. Occasionally, such policies will be very high profile and the cost of the policy will be offset by the positive PR, but that is rare.

    If it is really important for a company to do, or stop doing something, then perhaps the government should regulate it? I know t
  • How does:

    Yahoo shareholders have rejected plans for the company to adopt a policy that opposes censorship on the internet.
    become:

    Yahoo! has rejected a shareholder proposal to adopt an anti-censorship policy.

    If you're against censorship and propaganda, at least have the decency not to perform it yourself by twisting the words.

Memory fault -- brain fried

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