Yahoo – Human Rights

Whereas, while Human Rights have traditionally been the domain of international law, in the era of globalization and technological change, privacy and freedom of expression have become among the most salient policy issues for multinational corporations;

Whereas, it is internationally acknowledged that “existing legal frameworks…are no longer appropriate” for handling the explosion of communications and content crossing international boundaries, and “conceptualizations of existing human rights laws have not kept up with the modern and changing communications and surveillance capabilities”[1];

Whereas, our international exposure to conflict in human rights is significant as Yahoo operates in 50 countries in a highly competitive, elaborate network of partners and subsidiaries with complex social demands and complicated legal systems, all in an extremely unsettled regulatory environment;

Whereas, Yahoo works in countries with poor human rights records, have faced legal claims including unlawful activity and personal injury, and are continually at risk of negatively affecting human rights through our operations and compliance with foreign governments;

Whereas, our company is facing mounting uncertainties regarding national and international government regulations and human rights laws;

Whereas, Yahoo is exposed to significant harm to our business operations and financial condition because of extraordinary demands on our resources with the unprecedented surveillance frequency, capacity, and government requests for data, as well as increasing compliance costs for numerous and sometimes conflicting US and foreign laws, regulations, and their interpretations;

Whereas, all of these risks may expose Yahoo to potentially significant civil or criminal liabilities, penalties, and negative publicity, damaging our reputation and our business;

Whereas, nations, democratic and authoritarian alike, are actively crafting rules regarding free speech and privacy[2], and multinational corporations are increasingly influencing legal and regulatory frameworks and proving a defining force in technological global governance[3];

Whereas, none of our current Directors or Corporate Committees have any explicit responsibility for overseeing human rights issues, including privacy and freedom of speech; be it therefore

RESOLVED that shareholders request the Board to direct the Governance Committee to create a standing committee to oversee the Company’s responses to domestic and international developments in human rights that affect our company.

Supporting Statement

The committee should be directed, as a minimum to address human rights issues of private and government surveillance, and rights of freedom of expression and association. As one of our Executives recently wrote on a corporate blog regarding surveillance and human rights, “The United States should lead the world when it comes to transparency, accountability, and respect of civil liberties and human rights.”[4] With the growing importance of multinational corporation participation in the defining of new, international laws and regulations, and with the significant harm our company faces in the wake of this new era, our company needs to actively consider human rights issues at the highest level.



[3] Ibid