“Moral pygmies”

yahoo.jpgAs if on cue, today’s Yahoo case demonstrates my point in yesterday’s post about corporations needing to be forced to act morally and responsibly. Here’s what happened:

Yahoo Inc., reeling from a growing backlash over human rights and its China operations, settled a lawsuit Tuesday that accused it of illegally helping the Chinese government jail and torture two journalists.

It marked a dramatic change of heart for Yahoo, which had steadfastly maintained it had to comply with a request from Chinese authorities to share information about the online activities of the two Chinese nationals.

But Yahoo’s cooperation turned into a public relations nightmare over the last week after irate federal lawmakers lambasted it on Capitol Hill, accusing it of collaborating with an oppressive regime.

“While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-Calif., said at a hearing.

More from Lantos:

“It took a tongue-lashing from Congress before these high-tech titans did the right thing and coughed up some concrete assistance for the family of a journalist whom Yahoo had helped send to jail,” Lantos said in a statement. “What a disgrace.”

I doubt it was the tongue-lashing. They settled because they faced taking a bigger financial hit had they not done so. I doubt morality ever came into the equation.


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