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Yahoo Helped China Jail Journalist

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Al Kufr
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Well, governments are instituted to protect the rights of their citizens, not so much the rights of others. However, I suppose the argument could be made that the violation of the rights of foreign citizens by Americans makes those Americans morally responsible, and therefore could be made legally responsible for their actions. Furthermore, if they act in such a criminal manner abroad, then who is to say they won't behave similarly at home? But it is a good question, does the authority of a proper government extend beyond the borders.

In the U.S. constitution, there is a notion that the Congress can legislate and punish in regards to the "Laws of Nations", which could mean Congress could illegallize certain international behavior (genocide, invasion forces, pirating and the like).

Edited by Captain Nate
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Well, governments are instituted to protect the rights of their citizens, not so much the rights of others. However, I suppose the argument could be made that the violation of the rights of foreign citizens by Americans makes those Americans morally responsible, and therefore could be made legally responsible for their actions. Furthermore, if they act in such a criminal manner abroad, then who is to say they won't behave similarly at home? But it is a good question, does the authority of a proper government extend beyond the borders.

In the U.S. constitution, there is a notion that the Congress can legislate and punish in regards to the "Laws of Nations", which could mean Congress could illegallize certain international behavior (genocide, invasion forces, pirating and the like).

The only question for me is, "Does Yahoo?'s behavior endanger the tiny bit of freedom available to US residents?" In view of the totalitarian nature of the Chinese government, I doubt that it would have much effect whether Yahoo? cooperated or not. The criticism being leveled at Yahoo?, though, may have a salutary effect on others that think about kowtowing (and I use the word advisedly!) to dictatorial regimes. The American government's only responsibility in the international arena is to defend itself and its citizens. It has no "moral" obligation to act to save others who suffer under tyranny unless that action would be in the best interest of US taxpayers.

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Well, governments are instituted to protect the rights of their citizens, not so much the rights of others.

I assume you oppose the embargo on Cuba then?

edit: And if (hypothetically) a group of terrorists targetting America were operating in England, would you say that the British government has no moral obligation to crack down on them, since the rights of British citizens arent being infringed?

edit2: Plus the Chinese government has no obligation to respect the intellectual property rights of American corporations, nor does any other national government. And there was nothing wrong with oil nationalisation in the middle east since it was only Americans who were being disadvantaged.

Edited by Hal
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The American government's only responsibility in the international arena is to defend itself and its citizens.  It has no "moral" obligation to act to save others who suffer under tyranny unless that action would be in the best interest of US taxpayers.
It is a violation of the victim's right for Yahoo to have willingly cooperated in hunting down this dissident. In a society governed by objective law, it would be a crime to aid and abet the violation of rights, and it would be immaterial whether you performed the rights violation within US soil or elsewhere. It is always in the interest of US citizens to uphold the rule of objective law, which is why it would be in the best interest of "US taxpayers" (which should not exist) to prosecute this case.
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  • 7 months later...

There's another story about a (third) Chinese person who has been caught because of evidence given by Yahoo to the Chinese government.

Turns out that some dissidents play it safe by not communicating publicly. Instead, they create an email account in Yahoo, Google, etc. They use their "Drafts" folder as a kind of forum. Since it is password protected, only trusted friends can get in. The Chinese authorities asked Yahoo to hand over the contents of someone's "drafts" folder, and they did.

The translated court documents says that the accused wanted to create a "Freedom and Democracy Party" to promote western-style democracy and a multi-party system. They are also accused of saying that they were willing to use violent means to acheive democracy. They drafted a party program that advocated using "all effective measures to unite all democratic powers to overthrow the dictatorial autocracy of the Communist Party of China. He is also accused of planning, but not carrying out, a false bomb-threat to disrupt a Communist Party meeting, a charge that he denies but says was mentioned by one of the co-conspirators who has turned state's evidence [wonder what they did to him].

Today, President Bush welcomed the Chinese Premier to the US, but demonstrated that he is less than a normal world leader. How? Instead of a state dinner attended by top US CEOs and politicians, they arranged a lunch attended by top US CEOs and politicians.

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Does America, or any government, have an obligation to spread it's morality to the rest of the world?

No, but it it's perfectly within its rights to do so if it is a rights respecting nation and finds it in its self-interest to do so.

Is it a government or a religion?
This question is pointless. Is A non A?

I thought a government's job is to protect it's citizens property rights, not the world.

It is any proper government's purpose to protect it's citizens individual rights, property rights being an extention thereof. However, sometimes to ensure the protection of these rights, enemies who are bent on destruction of these rights, especially the citizen's right to life, must be eliminated by all means necessary.

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This question is pointless. Is A non A?

Actually that was the point I was making.

It is any proper government's purpose to protect it's citizens individual rights, property rights being an extention thereof. However, sometimes to ensure the protection of these rights, enemies who are bent on destruction of these rights, especially the citizen's right to life, must be eliminated by all means necessary.

These are instances of a foriegn government enforcing it's laws on it's citizenry, not Americans. If our government tries to impose it's moral foundation on a foreign government trying to enforce it's laws on it's citizens, then I say America is trying to spread it's morality to the world.

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If our government tries to impose it's moral foundation on a foreign government trying to enforce it's laws on it's citizens, then I say America is trying to spread it's morality to the world.

There's is only one objective morality, and yes it proper to "spread it" if the situation deems it necassary.

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So then America should be policing the world, correct?
I understand your point in general, but not in the context of this thread. An capitalist government would not be obliged to exert any effort to stop an evil, overseas from denying his subject their due rights. The president of that capitalist government might even sit down to lunch with said dictator. He would not, however, pretend that the guy is not an evil dictator.
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I understand your point in general, but not in the context of this thread. An capitalist government would not be obliged to exert any effort to stop an evil, overseas from denying his subject their due rights. The president of that capitalist government might even sit down to lunch with said dictator. He would not, however, pretend that the guy is not an evil dictator.

But in the context of this thread, if our government should be policing the world, then yes, they can go after Yahoo or Google or MSN or any of them. If the government should not be policing the world, but instead it's citizens, then why should those companies be held accountable for following foreign law when it does not deal with or affect American citizens. I am trying to detrmine the root morality of this.

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.. why should those companies be held accountable for following foreign law when it does not deal with or affect American citizens.
I hold the companies morally responsible, but that does not imply that a capitalist government would make such behavior illegal.
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I hold the companies morally responsible, but that does not imply that a capitalist government would make such behavior illegal.

so then your answer to

Would a proper government prosecute the people at Yahoo responsible for cooperating with a statist government and helping that government violate their own citizens rights.

would then be no. This is my answer too, I am just trying to figure out if it's correct or not.

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so then your answer ...would then be no. This is my answer too,...
Great. Incidentally, I'm not against trade with China. I also think China will likely be a rich and free country some day and that they are moving in that direction inexorably. I just think the US government should speak morally and without evasion. The fear that the Chinese will not trade with the US if the US calls a spade a spade -- like the fear that the middle-East will not sell us oil -- is misplaced.
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Oh I totally agree, I liked Google and Yahoo and Microsoft's response to the question of why they helped the Chinese government. If they did not follow the rules and did not do what they needed to do to stay over in China doing business, there would be a much, much smaller western footprint. At least by being there, they are constantly exposing that idea that there is alternatives to what they have. They stated it much better, but that's the gist of it.

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Oh I totally agree, I liked Google and Yahoo and Microsoft's response to the question of why they helped the Chinese government. If they did not follow the rules and did not do what they needed to do to stay over in China doing business, there would be a much, much smaller western footprint.
Well I'm sure this is what they said, but I'm sceptical about whether it is true. Perhaps I'm being cynical here, but I would guess that their actual thought process would be something closer to "withdrawing from China would lose us money, and I'm sure we will be able to invent some semi-convincing rationalisation for our actions anyway to avoid offending our Western fanbase". Edited by Hal
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Well I'm sure this is what they said, but I'm sceptical about whether it is true. Perhaps I'm being cynical here, but I would guess that their actual thought process would be something closer to "withdrawing from China would lose us money, and I'm sure we will be able to invent some semi-convincing rationalisation for our actions anyway to avoid offending our Western fanbase".

I'm not so skeptical. Maybe you're right, but either way they would be acting on essentially the same ethical basis-- namely, pragmatism. Whether the end they are trying to use as a justification for their appalling behavior is revenues or some precarious, long-term goal of Westernizing China, it still involves grossly unjust actions on Yahoo's part.

Maybe as a result of Yahoo's compliance, China will become free in twenty or a hundred years-- maybe not. Regardless, there was a man trying to bring this about now who is probably in prison or worse. Violating the rights of even one individual can never be justified by its relationship to any goal, utilitarian or egoistic.

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I wonder if there are any US laws that require compliance of foreign laws. I think, for instance, there are some laws that prevent US companies from bribing foreign politicians. Hypothecially, if Yahoo were to fabricate lie to Chinese authorities, would it be open to any type of US prosecution.

[Last night, Leno was joking about China's President Hu saying China will keep a unique political system but is learning from other countries and moving toward democracy. And, jokes Leno, President Bush spoke about how we're learning from China -- warrantless searching and evesdropping ... and we're going to build a great wall too!] Edited to add: Lest this be taken seriously.... The fact the Leno can joke about it on national TV tells you how different the US really is.

Edited by softwareNerd
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I would think that kind of law would be kind of redundant. I would more expect a law stating that they don't have to follow foreign law rather than they should. Looking at Rand's essay about how to live in an irrational society, wouldn't Yahoo still be justified morally by giving in to China to keep it's business over there going, because there was no other choice open and stating that they were being forced to do something they felt was wrong? I'm not saying Yahoo actually did that, just asking the question. MSN and Google did state that they didn't believe what they had to do was right, but that is was required to be able to stay in business over there. I don't separate censorship as being that much less of an evil than jailing dissidents either.

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