UPDATE: ZDNet editor Larry Dignan is squashing this story:
I’m ending this back and forth now. This story, which derived from a blog post in Iran, has turned into a he said-Yahoo said go-round. Yahoo has denied the charges that it has turned over names to Iran and called the allegations completely false. Short of second and third sourcing, ZDNet must consider this report unreliable.
ORIGINAL: A group of Iranian dissidents is alleging that Yahoo (YHOO) provided the Iranian regime with the names of 200,000 users who published blogs during post-election protesting.
The names were supposedly turned over in exchange for Iran removing a block on the service throughout the country.
Yahoo has vehemently denied the allegations, telling ZDNet, which first reported the story in English:
“The allegations in the story are false. Neither Yahoo! nor any Yahoo! representative has met with or communicated with any Iranian officials, and Yahoo! has not disclosed user data to the Iranian government. Yahoo! was founded on the principle that access to information and communications tools can improve people’s lives, and Yahoo! is committed to protecting and promoting freedom of expression and privacy. To learn more about our human rights efforts, please visit: http://humanrights.yahoo.com.””
ZDnet translated an Iranian blog post on the story. Here’s that:
On 27th of Shahrivar (Day of Qods) when Iranians demonstrated again on the streets, the Iranian authorities in addition to blocking many internet sites, all over Iran, blocked or severely limited access to Yahoo and Google. Google did not react and its problem was resolved with 48 hours, but Yahoo sent a representative to Iran’s telecommunications ministry, to resolve the issue.
During the meeting with Iranian Internet authorities and telecommunications authorities, Yahoo representatives were asked to provide Iranian authorities with the names (data) on all Iranian Internet account holders in exchange for removing the block/filter on the Yahoo website.
The Yahoo representative subsequently expressed that currently there were more than 20 million email accounts and providing such a list will be a very time-consuming process. To which the IRGC (Islamic Republic Guardian Council) replied by asking the representative to provide email accounts of those individuals who have Yahoo accounts and are publishing blogs.
Apparently this made Yahoo’s task a bit easier and the Yahoo representative agreed to provide such a list within a matter of hours. Upon the receipt of such a list, which included approximately 200,000 emails, by the Iranian authorities, the regime immediately unblocked access to the Yahoo.com website. The list went back as far as five years and included active and inactive accounts and blogs.
It is necessary to mention here that the Iranian Yahoo is managed by Yahoo Corporation in Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur).
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