The Washington Post reports that in 2008 the government threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day if it failed to relinquish user data on behalf of the NSA’s PRISM program. Yahoo’s general counselor Ron Bell claims that the recently disclosed lawsuit is proof that the company fought the government “every step of the way.”
In this sense the Post’s article depicts Yahoo as a champion of human rights, fighting courageously to protect user data from government surveillance.
This impression conflicts sharply with Yahoo’s behavior in China. Human Rights groups note that Yahoo has worked closely with the Chinese government to identify political dissidents, dissidents who were imprisoned and tortured.
Yahoo initially denied that it collaborated with the Chinese government though the truth eventually came out in court. A Yahoo spokesman offered a token apologia stating the “companies doing business in China are forced to comply with Chinese law.”
Does this sound oddly familiar? Recall how Google’s public relations team responded when news of their involvement in the NSA’s PRISM program became public knowledge:
“Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully”