Yahoo apologises over China blunder

A senior executive at Yahoo has apologised for failing to give US lawmakers additional information about the internet company’s alleged role in the imprisonment of a Chinese dissident.

Yahoo apologises over China blunder

The apology comes days before a congressional committee hearing next week, at which Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang is expected to answer questions on his company’s disclosure of information to Chinese authorities.

Yahoo has been accused of helping the Chinese government identify Shi Tao, a reporter who was sentenced last April to 10 years in prison for leaking state secrets abroad.

In February 2006, Yahoo General Counsel Michael Callahan testified that Yahoo China, then a subsidiary of Yahoo, passed information about one of its users to Chinese authorities in 2004 without knowledge of why China wanted the data.

“Months after I testified before two House subcommittees on Yahoo’s approach to business in China, I realised Yahoo had additional information about a 2004 order issued by the Chinese government seeking information about a Yahoo China user,” Callahan said in a statement dated 1 November.

“I neglected to directly alert the Committee of this new information and that oversight led to a misunderstanding that I deeply regret and have apologised to the Committee for creating,” he said.

According to a spokesperson for the company the problem was caused by a bad translation of the 2004 Chinese order given to a company lawyer. A correct translation was apparently not received until after the 2006 hearing.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee endorsed legislation last month that would bar US internet companies from cooperating with authorities in China and other repressive regimes.

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