I want to give Yahoo the benefit of the doubt because it is breaking new ground, which means it faces tough new challenges and ethical dilemmas that armchair critics don’t, including the ethics of doing business in China. However, I’m deeply concerned over a moral lapse being exhibited by Yahoo’s CEO, Terry Semel, in reference to doing business in China and his answers about former Nazi Germany.
The Enquirer reports:
Speaking at the All Things Digital conference, Semel said that the rationale for collaborating with Chinese authorities in ways that result in sending non-violent political protestors to long jail sentences was that he was "simply a businessman following local laws".
Then same hack asked would Yahoo have helped Nazi Germany in the same way.
Semel didn’t pause. He said that he didn’t feel good about what’s happening in China today. But then again he didn’t feel good about some of the things that happen in the US either.
He said that it was "not Yahoo collaborating. It’s Yahoo’s majority partner". That argument didn’t work for IBM, when it was sued by Romanies for supplying gear that made the holocaust more efficient.
When asked again if he would collaborate the same way with the Nazis, Semel said he didn’t know how he would have felt then.
This disturbing report makes me wonder if I should continue my own loyalty to Yahoo, which is significant:
- Yahoo hosts this blog
- I have a My Yahoo account
- I have a paid Yahoo flickr account
- I’m a user and endorser of Yahoo’s del.icio.us social bookmark service
Inertia is holding me to these services, and therefore Yahoo, but I’ll be paying close attention to this issue. It’s another addition to my running list of what’s wrong with Yahoo.