Yahoo! top boss finally came before the Congress for the much-expected apology in the case of the Chinese journalist Shi Tao. Te company was highly criticized for providing Chinese authorities with enough data to identify and arrest journalist Shi Tao.
As expected, Jerry Yang's audience during the hearing on Capitol Hill was mostly hostile.
"I want to personally apologize for what they [Shi Tao's relatives present at the hearing] and their family are going through," said Yang. He quickly added that the company was doing its best at getting the Chinese authorities to free the reporter.
At present time, Shi Tao is in a Chinese prison serving a 10-years sentence.
Up till recent, Yahoo! kept claiming that the company knew nothing about the nature of the Chinese investigation. Later on, a Chinese document proved beyond doubt that Yahoo! knew quite well what was the investigation all about. The company changed the tone and said that the Chinese law required it to provide the investigators with Shi Tao's emails and IP addresses.
Unfortunately for Yahoo!, the Congress' response was in the line of “We're not buying!”. Tom Lantos, chairman of the House foreign affairs committee, was rather blunt in his speech:
"Such is the case with a young journalist named Shi Tao, who is languishing in a Chinese dungeon on a 10-year sentence because he pierced the veil and a huge, US-based multinational company practically led the police to his door. If you think our witnesses today are uncomfortable sitting in this climate-controlled room and accounting for their company's spineless and irresponsible actions, imagine how life is for Shi Tao."
There has been much talk over what should a multinational company do when confronted with such situation. Yahoo, as well as Google and Microsoft have been accused several times of being too compliant with the requests of the Chinese government, which definitely went against principles like “freedom of speech” or “right to privacy”. With no actual measures taken so far, is most-likely that such cases will continue to pop up.