Company News

Yahoo execs asked to testify at House hearing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A congressional committee on asked top executives at Yahoo Inc on Tuesday to testify about the company’s alleged role in the imprisonment of a Chinese dissident.

Rep. Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he scheduled a November 6 hearing to discuss Yahoo’s disclosure of information to Chinese authorities about the case of Shi Tao. Yahoo Chief Executive Jerry Yang and General Counsel Michael Callahan were asked to testify, Lantos said in a statement.

Lantos, a California Democrat, said a Yahoo executive gave “false information” about what the company knew of the Chinese government’s investigation of Shi at a 2006 congressional hearing.

“We want to clarify how that happened, and to hold the company to account for its actions both before and after its testimony proved untrue. And we want to examine what steps the company has taken since then to protect the privacy rights of its users in China,” Lantos said.

Yahoo said it was unfair for the House committee to single out the company and that the panel “mischaracterizes” the nature of Yahoo’s past testimony.

“As the committee well knows from repeated meetings and conversations, Yahoo representatives were truthful with the committee. This issue revolves around a genuine disagreement with the committee over the information provided,” Yahoo spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler said in a statement.

Yahoo is working with other companies and the human rights community to develop an Internet global code of conduct for operating in China and other countries, Schmaler said.

Shi worked as a reporter at Contemporary Business News in China and wrote articles advocating political reform. He was arrested in 2004 for publishing on an overseas Web site a document Chinese officials considered a state secret, and was later sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Lantos said police found Shi in Beijing after Chinese authorities asked Yahoo to provide information about his e-mail account, IP address and log-on history.

Reporting by Julie Vorman