Yahoo, Regulation, and Constraints

Slashdot | Why You & Yahoo Should Like This Human Rights Law - [My] This is a pretty good article, not only for the human-rights issue, but for government regulation in general. I've blogged about this in the past. This is one of those frequently occurring cases where not only does an industry need regulation, in some ways, it may want it. Since any one company can't act ethically, because of its shareholder obligations, regulating the entire industry allows the "good" companies to do the right things, as well as making the others toe the line.

A company like Google, with relatively positive treatment in the press and public, has a lot to lose, in terms of goodwill, by abetting human-rights abuses in China. But they, legally, can't turn away the profits they'd make (and, more to the point, the dividends they'd pay to their shareholders.) Now that the Democratically-controlled Congress might, finally, pass this legislation, they can make back that goodwill. And Microsoft might earn some it never had (though it does have a surprising amount already, at least according to the WSJ.)

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