Freedom of the Press

Another day, another shining instance of the Chinese government’s take on the freedom of the press.

In what appears to be a coordinated assault, the e-mail accounts of more than a dozen rights activists, academics and journalists who cover China have been compromised by unknown intruders. A Chinese human rights organization also said that hackers disabled its Web site for a fifth straight day.

The infiltrations, which involved Yahoo e-mail accounts, appeared to be aimed at people who write about China and Taiwan, rendering their accounts inaccessible, according to those who were affected. In the case of this reporter, hackers altered e-mail settings so that all correspondence was surreptitiously forwarded to another e-mail address.

Kathleen McLaughlin, an American freelance journalist in Beijing who sits on the board of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China, said the group has confirmed that 10 journalists, including herself, had their accounts compromised.

Like the others, said she received a message from Yahoo on Thursday indicating that her account had been disabled because, according to an automated message, “we have detected an issue with your account.”

It’s additionally a puzzle that anyone inside China, Hong Kong or Taiwan would use Yahoo or MSN for their email services. Yahoo has shown a repeated predilection to share user data with the Chinese government. Their comfort in helping totalitarian states crack down on the press and people who share different ideas from the Chinese government should trouble anyone who, like me, thinks American companies should not be allowed to aid in repression by foreign regimes.

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