Internet portal Yahoo is being accused in federal court of adding insult to injury over a phony “human rights” group it set up to supposedly protect dissidents to the communist Chinese government, which turned out to be a sham. According to reports, Yahoo had created the fake group in response to first betraying these dissidents by handing over their personal information to the Chinese government, only to then use it for personal gain rather than to protect human rights.
The issue began about 10 years ago when Yahoo settled a lawsuit alleging that it had played tattle-tale with the personal information of individuals who were communicating back and forth with one another through Yahoo’s platform in opposition to China’s oppressive form of government. Rather than protect these personal, and very private, interactions between its users, Yahoo instead decided to send them straight away to Chinese government officials in violation of its own privacy policies.
As part of the later agreed-upon settlement, Yahoo was told to set up the so-called “Yahoo Human Rights Fund Trust” in 2007, which was supposed to advocate on behalf of political prisoners and others who are persecuted for standing up against tyranny. But rather than fulfill this moral obligation, Yahoo instead used the group as a type of proxy slush fund to bilk people out of their hard-earned cash, doubling down on its commitment to corruption.
“The fund was supposed to provide financial assistance to political prisoners in China, but so far only $700,000 – or 4 percent of the fund’s original assets – has gone to that purpose,” explains Courthouse News, adding that, “most of the rest has gone to a nonprofit one of the fund’s overseers owns, according to a 39-page complaint filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.”
Part of the lawsuit alleges that at least one political prisoner in China had attempted to use the fund as it was intended to function to seek help, only to be turned down. This individual was told that the Yahoo Humans Rights Fund Trust “had decided to stop providing humanitarian assistance to imprisoned Chinese dissidents,” when in reality it was simply pocketing most of the cash for its executive leadership team.
In another instance, a political prisoner’s suffering was completely ignored by the group, which, if it had been legitimate, would have published this individual’s story in order to provide support. And on numerous other occasions, Yahoo misappropriated support funds, the suit alleges, to try to bail itself out of hot water over other lawsuits claiming that the corporation was failing to fulfill its duties as part of the earlier settled lawsuit.
“From the beginning, the Yahoo defendants’ management of the Yahoo trust highlighted the cynical realty that Yahoo used the Yahoo trust as window-dressing: it wanted to benefit from the creation of the Yahoo trust, but had no interest in fulfilling its actual mission or complying with its terms and the obligations that came with it,” the complaint reads. “And Yahoo did benefit, enormously.”
Perhaps the worst offense was Yahoo’s use of its “human rights” trust fund as a shield against its continued abuses of human rights. As much as $17.3 million was contained in this fund, and yet only a very small fraction ever made its way into channels that actually helped people. The bulk sum was used for other more sinister purposes, not the least of which included padding the pockets of the Yahoo executives who were tasked with overseeing the fund.
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