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China Frees Journalist Who Was Outed by Yahoo

Shi Tao, a Chinese reporter who was incarcerated in 2005 after Yahoo divulged his email details, has been released from prison.

Shi was first arrested in 2004 and charged with disclosing state secrets, namely emailing details of a government memo about keeping a lid on news coverage of the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. The email was sent to a human rights forum in the United States.

In a move that drew the ire of U.S. legislators and human rights activists, Yahoo, for lack of a better term, ratted out Shi by dishing details of his email to Beijing. The company said it was compelled by the Chinese government.

Yahoo’s CEO later apologized to Shi’s family. The company settled lawsuits brought by Shi’s family, as well as by the family of an activist who was sentenced on subversion charges when Yahoo’s Hong Kong affiliate disclosed the content of his email account.

The Independent Chinese Pen Center, a writer’s group, broke the news of Shi’s release, saying that he has in fact been out of jail since Aug. 23. The group did not offer details on why he was released.

In related news, Yahoo seems to be getting out of the China business altogether.

[Source: The Guardian]

French Court Hears Case on Google Filtering Search Results

Max Mosley, the victim of a 2008 News of the World sting in which the now-defunct tabloid posted photos and videos of him at a sadomasochistic sex party, has asked a Paris court to order Google to filter lewd and degrading content from its search results.

A British court ruled that News of the World had breached Mosley’s privacy, a decision that forced the outlet to take down its degrading content and to pay him a roughly US$94,000 settlement.

Alas, while the Rupert Murdoch-owned outlet took the content off its own website, the photos and video live on, and Mosley wants to force Google — presumably the main source for finding the Mosley content — to preclude it from search results.

Mosley’s lawyer told the court that if Google France declined to remove the offending images, the company should be fined. The court is expected to rule on Oct. 21.

Google claims it has no responsibility in the matter, saying in a statement that the company feels for Mosley, but that his proposals “would censor legitimate speech, restrict access to information and stifle innovation.”

Google added that it has taken down hundreds of pages with images that implicated Mosley.

Mosley filed a similar case in Hamburg, Germany.

[Source: The New York Times]

Google Tweaks EU Offer

Google offered a new proposal to European Union regulators in an attempt to settle a lengthy antitrust probe into the company’s search service.

Joaquin Almunia, the EC’s Competition Commissioner, said that Google submitted the proposals last week, and that if the EC is satisfied, “we can advance toward an agreed solution in the coming months.” Google competitors have expressed consternation about the molasses-slow probe, which is approaching its third anniversary.

The European Commission’s antitrust investigation into Google is beginning to seem never-ending. Late last year, the commission ordered Google to submit concessions in an attempt to remedy what regulators deemed an abuse of market position, among other grievances. Google did indeed offer concessions, but those were rejected by competitors, who said the sacrifices weren’t enough.

Google failed “to make a serious offer last time around,” said Thomas Vinje, a lawyer for FairSearch, which represents Google rivals like Microsoft and Nokia.

Any new proposals should be vetted and approved by competitors, he added.

[Source: Bloomberg]

How Cheap Will the Cheap iPhone Be?

Leaks have taken some of the suspense out of Apple’s much-anticipated product launches this week, when the company is expected to unveil two new iPhones — the 5S and the 5C.

One secret remains: how much will the C cost?

Believed to be a “lower-end” device, the iPhone 5C appears to be a stab at emerging markets like China — Apple is holding an event in Beijing on Wednesday — where iPhones are prohibitively expensive.

Many analysts are putting the price of the new phone at between US$400 and $500. That might sound like a lot, but it’s nothing company to the $850-plus that a new iPhone costs in China. It is also worth noting that $300 to $400 in China is considered “middle-range.”

[Source: Business Insider]

David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author ofThe Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out hisECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.

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