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Yahoo HK cleared of privacy breach for journalist

By Staff
Google Oneindia News

Shanghai, Mar 15: Yahoo! Hong Kong Ltd. has been cleared of allegations that it provided personal data to Chinese authorities, in violation of Hong Kong privacy laws, that led to a mainland journalist being jailed.

Hong Kong Privacy Commissioner Roderick Woo said there was insufficient evidence to prove Yahoo! Inc.'s Hong Kong unit provided personal data to the Chinese authorities in 2005.

Media watchdogs had said Yahoo! Hong Kong provided details about e-mails that helped to identify, and were used as evidence against, Shi Tao, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for leaking state secrets abroad.

French group Reporters Without Borders said Shi, a former news editor for the Contemporary Business News in Hunan province, was convicted for e-mailing to foreign-based Web sites the text of an internal message to journalists about dangers around the 15th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

''The investigation finds no contravention of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance,'' Woo said in a report dated March 14 and posted on his Web site (www.pcpd.org.hk).

The report did not refer to Shi by name.

Yahoo! Hong Kong said in an e-mailed statement on the ruling: ''Yahoo! Hong Kong maintains a high quality online environment for our users and takes user privacy very seriously.'' China defines as a state secret anything that affects the security and interests of the state, but the limits are vague and can include political news.

Rights groups say the laws are arbitrary enough to be manipulated for political purposes.


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