If Only Congress Would Act According To Their Rhetoric

Yahoo Executives Defend Company in China Case

Two top Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) Inc. officials on Tuesday defended their company’s role in the jailing of a Chinese journalist but ran into withering criticism from lawmakers who accused them of complicity with an oppressive communist regime.

“While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are pygmies,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos, D-Calif., said angrily after hearing from the two Yahoo executives.

Wonder what Lantos’ position on Mukasey is? I know he doesn’t vote on it, but OTOH, he does get to vote on FISA amnesty for telecomm companies, so we’ll see if he can stand up to his own posturing.

“I cannot ask our local employees to resist lawful demands and put their own freedom at risk, even if, in my personal view, the local laws are overbroad,” Callahan said.

Lantos rejected that argument.

“I do not believe that America’s best and brightest companies should be playing integral roles in China’s notorious and brutal political repression apparatus,” he said.


Later: The LATimes’ article — Yahoo taken to task over Chinapdf

The hearing by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Yahoo’s conduct in China was a rare public shaming of the Internet leader, whose actions led to the imprisonment of journalist Shi Tao.

Committee Chairman Tom Lantos (D-Burlingame) and other lawmakers pilloried Yang and Michael Callahan, Yahoo’s executive vice president and general counsel, for providing Chinese officials with Shi’s identity from his e-mail address in 2004, then misleading lawmakers last year about what it knew about the case.

[…] After Lantos suggested they ask for forgiveness, Yang, who emigrated from Taiwan as a child, turned and again bowed three times — each lower than the last — to Shi’s mother, Gao Qinsheng, as the 61-year-old woman dabbed at her eyes with a tissue.

“I believe he really means that because we are Chinese,” Gao said through an interpreter after the hearing. “In the minute that he showed his regret and apologized, I had tears in my eyes. I accept that.”

And a little background on Rep Lantos, who may, in fact, stand on principle — if so, I couldn’t be more pleased:

“If you think our witnesses today are uncomfortable sitting in this climate-controlled room and accounting for their company’s spineless and irresponsible actions, imagine how life is for Shi Tao, spending 10 long years in a Chinese dungeon for exchanging information publicly — exactly what Yahoo claims to support in places like China,” said Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor in Congress and an ardent human rights supporter. “I would urge you to beg the forgiveness of the mother whose son is languishing behind bars due to Yahoo’s actions.”

Lantos objected to Callahan’s description of China’s requests as “lawful,” saying they were aimed at quashing political dissent, not enforcing legitimate laws.

As I said, the irony here in the face of Congress’ pending capitulation on amnesty for US telecomm companies is rich.

Yahoo isn’t the only villainpdf

The Death Spiral Continues

Tracking of Web Use by Marketers Gains Favor

It seems that the Federal Trade Commission is not slowing down the online advertising party.

Just days after a commissioner at the agency expressed concern about consumer privacy on the Internet, two large social networking sites are showcasing new ways to use information about their members to deliver specialized advertisements.

Cheering on Google’s Entry

The NYTimes: Google Enters the Wireless World

What Apple began with its iPhone, Google is hoping to accelerate, with an ambitious plan to transform the software at the heart of cellphones.

And the LATimes: Google hopes to conquer the wireless worldpdf

Google Inc. rules your computer. Now it wants to rule your mobile phone.

After months of speculation, Google on Monday unveiled its vision to transform the wireless industry by making mobile phones as good for Web surfing as personal computers.

The WWW and Newspapers

Newspaper circulation still falling; but website readership seen growingpdf

Newspaper circulation continues to decline in Massachusetts and across the country, according to a report issued yesterday. But for the first time, the data also included figures for newspaper websites to measure the growth of online readership.

Sadly, the online article doesn’t include the data, so here are scans from my morning paper and then tables from the scans:

Declining circulation

Average paid weekday circulation of the nation’s 20 largest newspapers for the six-month period ended in September

Note: The Chicago Sun-Times has not yet resumed reporting following being censured in 2004 for misstating circulation figures

USA Today 2,293,137 up 1.04%
The Wall Street Journal 2,011,882 down 1.53%
The New York Times 1,037,828 down 4.51%
Los Angeles Times 779,682 up 0.50%
New York Daily News 681,415 down 1.73%
New York Post 667,119 down 5.24%
The Washington Post 635,087 down 3.23%
Chicago Tribune 559,404 down 2.90%
Houston Chronicle 507,437 down 0.13%
Newsday, Long Island 387,503 down 5.62%
The Arizona Republic 382,414 down 3.75%
The Dallas Morning News 373,586 down 7.68%
San Francisco Chronicle 365,234 down 2.29%
The Boston Globe 360,695 down 6.66%
The Star-Ledger (Newark. N.J.) 353,003 down 2.78%
The Philadelphia Inquirer 338,260 up 2.31%
Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) 335,443 down 6.53%
The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 334,195 down 0.81%
Detroit Free Press 320,125 down 2.61%
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 318,350 down 9.08%
Online figures

For the first time, some newspapers reported to the Audit Bureau of Circulations the readership of their websites

Unique Visitors Page Views
The New York Times 13,857,000 370,200,000
The Washington Post 8,552,000 132,598,000
San Francisco Chronicle 8,256,412 74,197,265
New York Daily News 5,691,311 31,863,946
Los Angeles Times 5,318,000 52,497,000
Star-Tribune (Minneapolis) 4,955,193 59,473,452
The Boston Globe 4,175,000 61,046,000
Seattle Post-lntelligencer 3,739,856 100,088,332
San Diego Union-Tribune 3,589,545 31,519,805
Houston Chronicle 3,530,000 77,609,000
Chicago Tribune 3,316,000 61,733,000
Salt Lake City Tribune, Deseret Morning News 2,892,277 24,671,308
The Arizona Republic 2,544,000 67,170,000
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 2,448,000 80,297,000
St. Louis Post-Dispatch 2,318,496 49,259,083
Indianapolis Star 2,181,818 38,100,318
Newsday, Long Island 2,065,000 30,724,000
Orange County Register 2,034,229 17,208,272

Also More Readers Trading Newspapers for Web Sites

Wow — Someone’s Paying Attention

Effort for open Net resumespdf

A series of controversial actions by telecommunications companies has given new life to a political movement that would force telecom providers to treat all data transmissions the same.

Senator Olympia Snowe, Republican of Maine, and other members of Congress are renewing their drive for “network neutrality” legislation. A bill cosponsored by Snowe and Senator Byron Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, failed to pass last year. No action has been scheduled since it was reintroduced in January.

But Snowe and Dorgan want the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee to hold new hearings on the issue, after several incidents in which AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless, and Comcast Corp. restricted or blocked Internet communications carried on their networks.

The Cato Institute’s take is predictable, too:

Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute, agreed that network operators have made some poor decisions recently. But Harper said Internet performance could suffer if network managers were barred from setting limits on their traffic. “How do you write a law about this?” Harper said. “This is technically challenging and unsettled.”

As for the controversies at AT&T and Verizon Wireless, Harper noted that both companies quickly changed their policies under fire.

“I think this is a really good example of the market working quite well,” he said, “because a lot of people were investigating and talking about this.”

Yep, nothing like a market — backed by the threat of effective refereeing on the part of the government