给新浪公司投资者的一封公开

新浪公司的投资者,你们好!

我们发出这封公开信,是由于中国的互联网公司新浪网及新浪微博严重配合中国政府进行言论审查,毫无原则毫无底线地打压公民的言论自由,表现非常恶劣。

曾在2010年第六届德国之声国际博客大赛被评为最佳中文博客评委奖的博客“可能吧”发表题为“新浪微博给我印象最深刻的10件事”,文中陈列了新浪微博采 取的关键词审核与删帖、单向屏蔽、审核发言、禁言、“小秘书保护你”、删除帐号、删除帐号且无法重新注册、屏蔽IP等多种内容审查手段。文中还以专门关注 谷歌的网站“谷奥”(http://www.guao.hk/)文章被新浪抄袭为例,说明新浪微博除了配合政府进行言论审查之外,还“自主地随便删除用户 的信息”。【注1】

中国知名博客作者、法国人权委员会2010年度人权奖获得者北风撰文指出:“新浪不仅在配合当局进行内容审查,还配合‘他们’(审查机构)的要求对特定人士 进行栽赃嫁祸”。文章称,新浪微博主动更改了作者的微博账户名字,致使他人有机会使用作者原来的名字,发布足以让作者被追究法律责任的言论。【注2】

中国政法大学法学院副教授萧瀚以“微博转世的方式注册新帐号以抗议他们删除ID”。他在一篇题为《我为什么离开新浪微博》的文章中称“在这一年零九个月里, 我被删除的帐号,总共达97个之多”。萧瀚指:“微博管理员的恣肆(未经使用的转世ID被删除即其一例)、蛮横是有目共睹的,利用权力消灭他人的做法,在 新浪管理员这儿与共惨(产)党如出一辙,虽然他们只是消灭ID,但思维方式是相同的。”萧瀚最初发表这篇文章的新浪博客“追遠堂”,亦已经被新浪网完全删 除。【注3】

更有甚者,Youtube上一则题为“新浪微博是如何故意欺骗用户的”的视频,非常清楚地显示,新浪微博采用了欺骗用户的方式来限制特定用户获得关注。刘萍 女士是中国江西省基层人大代表的独立参选人,因参选的行为广受关注,在新浪微博关注她的人一度超过了三万人,但新浪采取了欺骗的方式降低制了其他用户对她 的关注。其他用户如果在进行关注她的操作时,系统显示关注成功,但实际上却是没能成功关注。关注刘萍的用户降至目前的两万余人。【注4】

中国互联网用户没有法律救济渠道去限制新浪网超越原则和底线的行为。

中国网民此前曾就言论审查起诉中国的互联网公司,但在公开的报道中,没有案件得以开庭审理。2007年8月16日,中国维权律师刘晓原到北京海淀法院起诉中 国另一个同样通过协议控制的互联网运营商搜狐隐藏博客文章违约,法院已于当天立案受理。但在9月12日,该院立案庭给予编号为(2007)海民初字第 23191号民事裁定书,裁定不予受理而驳回。刘晓原上诉无果。

有人提议在上市的新浪公司注册地或上市国家对上市的新浪公司直接提出诉讼,但依据公开资料显示,我们一般所说的新浪网,与NASDAQ上市的新浪公司并不是同一家公司或是具有从属关系的公司。

NASDAQ 上市的新浪公司(SINA Corporation,sina.com)是一家注册地为开曼群岛的控股公司(NASDAQ:SINA,以下简称新浪公司)。下辖四个全资子公司,包括 运营香港新浪网的香港新浪有限责任公司;利方(香港)投资有限责任公司,在美国加州注册的新浪在线(包括北美和台湾的两个网站)、以及在英属处女岛注册的 新浪有限公司。

新浪公司的子公司,以协议控制模式(又称“VIE结构”)的方式注册了几家公司,包括北京新浪互联信息服务有限公司、新浪互动公司、四通利方回归软件公司以及后来的北京 微梦创科网络技术有限公司。新浪互联经营国内新浪网的网络内容部分,持有ICP、新闻刊载资格许可证及其他相关牌照(以下简称新浪网);微梦创科经营新浪 微博,单独持有ICP牌照及其他相关牌照(以下简称新浪微博)。

新浪互动全面代理国内新浪网及新浪微博的广告,四通利方回归为新浪互联及微梦创科提供技术支持和服务。新浪网及新浪微博广告游戏等业务的广告收入按协议给了 新浪互动。其他各种收入又以技术支持的费用给了四通利方。新浪互动和四通利方回归按协议安排将利润全部输送至上市的新浪公司的全资子公司。

配合中国政府进行内容审查的是新浪网及新浪微博,他们的运营主体分别是北京新浪互联信息服务有限公司及北京微梦创科网络技术有限公司,它们纯属中国内资公司,与上市的新浪公司只有业务关系及协议控制关系,而并无直接的隶属关系。因此,无法通过在其注册地或上市国家对上市的新浪公司直接提出诉讼来迫使新浪网 及新浪微博停止新闻审查。

2011年,几名美国纽约居民曾就百度公司(同样通过协议控制)在网上“屏蔽”其发布的信息向美地方法院提起诉讼。中国外交部发言人姜瑜曾就此事表示,中国政府依法管理互联网符合国际通行做法,属于主权行为,根据国际法,外国法院没有管辖权。

我们清楚,在实施严厉言论审查的中国,要求新浪网完全放弃审查并不现实。但鉴于中国互联网用户没有任何有效渠道去限制新浪网超越原则和底线的行为。我们认 为,呼吁上市的新浪公司的投资者减持或不持有新浪公司的股票,将削弱新浪网在审查上持续投入的能力,从而迫使新浪重回到明确的审查规则上来,并保证用户可 以在中国或第三地寻求必要的司法救济。

根据新浪公司的2011年第二季财报,虽营收同比有所增加,但净利润为1000万美元,同比减少60.3%。“2011年第二季度的运营开支总计5970万 美元,上年同期为3200万美元。运营开支的增长主要源自与微博有关的营销开支和人力相关开支增加。”外界估计,从事新浪微博审核的工作人员已经接近 1000人。新浪公司将在未来一段时间继续加大与微博有关的营销开支和人力相关开支。通过减持或不持有新浪公司的股票来给新浪网及新浪微博施加压力,从而 降低新浪在审核工作上的投入,我们认为是可行的。

中国互联网的微博监管政策无疑是新浪网能否得以持续发展的重要影响因素,持有新浪公司的股票毫无疑问将充满巨大的不确定性。2011年9月20日美股新浪收 盘重挫15.17%,报收92.76美元,创下自2008年12月以来单日最大跌幅。以收盘价计算,新浪市值约60.87亿美元,一夜之间缩水超过10亿 美元。业内人士猜测,促使新浪股价暴跌的原因主要还在于对监管风险的担忧。【注5】

2011年10月17日,中共北京市委机关报《北京日报》第二版,以“甄言、晓刚”的匿名方式,发表评论员文章《网络微博诚信缺失将无以立足》,要求微博实名制。 【注6】该文章批评微博的快速发展存在严重的缺陷和问题,如果不加以遏制,将危害社会,呼吁官方坚决净化网络环境,以更为完善,更有针对性的措施,以保证 网络微博等新兴媒体为诚信负责。该文章又建议官方应全面实行微博实名制,尽快建立和完善网络媒体的责任追究制度。广东的《南方都市报》文章认为“严格实行 实名制,有可能会出现用户流失的状况。”【注7】

新浪CEO曹国伟(微博)日前接受央视《经济半小时》采访时表示,微博将是新浪未来驱动力。【注8】中国微博监管政策的走向,无疑将对新浪公司的前景产生重 大影响。随着中国的社会矛盾进一步尖锐,中国的社会控制将更加严密,中国的言论空间将更加恶化,网络论审查无疑将会更加收紧,中国政府完全关闭微博服务亦 不无可能。

作恶者及协同作恶者理应受到惩罚。我们在此呼吁:投资者不妨本着良知及理性的判断,通过减持或不持有新浪公司的股票,间接给新浪网及新浪微博施加压力,迫使新浪网及新浪微博重回到明确的审查规则上来。

执笔人:北风

2011年11 

联署人:

北风,香港,媒体人

夏业良,北京,经济学家

宋石男,成都,作家

许梦芸,上海,助理督导

Ajcheng,杭州,IT-Product Manager

張頂,加拿大,學生

Emily,西安,IT

王承刚,大连,交易员

赵连海,北京,公民

楊建利,美國哈佛大學,學者

Patton Woo,香港,IT Administrator

李雷,西安,弱电工程师

苏雨桐,德国,媒体人

张小建,现居北京市,IT工程师

王育圻,福建,初中生

欲参与联署请请姓名、地域、职业信息发到: wenyunchao@gmail.com

英文版: http://chinageeks.org/2011/11/wen-yunchao-an-open-letter-to-the-investors-of-sina/ (By Andy Yee

An Open Letter to the Investors of Sina

Dear Investors of Sina Corp,

We issue this open letter because Chinese Internet company Sina and its microblogging service, Sina Weibo, fully cooperate with the Chinese government to censor and suppress the free speech of online citizens, without regard to any principle. Their behavior is disgusting.

The blog “Kenengba”, which received the Best Chinese Blog award in the 6th Deutsche Welle Best of the Blogs (BOBs) competition in 2010, once published the article “Ten Impressions I’ve gotten from Sina Weibo”. The article summarizes the censorship tactics of Sina Weibo, including keyword screening and post deletion, unidirectional blocking, screening of posts, banning of speech, “The Little Secretary Helps You”, account deletion, blocking of re-registration, and blocking of IP. The article also uses the case of Sina’s plagiarism from the Google-focused website Guao (http://www.guao.hk/) to illustrate how Sina Weibo not only cooperates with the government on censorship, but also deletes users’ information on its free will.1

Beifeng, well-known Chinese blogger and winner of the 2010 annual award of the French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights, writes: “Sina not only cooperates with the authority to impose censorship, it also conforms to their requests to frame certain people.” The article highlights the practice of Sina to change the account name of a user so that others can use the original name to publish contents which can endanger that user with legal liabilities.2

Xiao Han, associate professor at the China University of Politics and Law, “protests against Sina’s account deletion through reincarnation.” In his article “Why I leave Sina Weibo”, he writes, “the outrageous behavior of the administrators (the banning of unused ID intended for reincarnation) is for all to see. They abuse their power to destroy other people. Although they only destroy IDs, their way of thinking is the same as the Communist Party.” Xiao Han’s blog, on which the article was published, has also been removed by Sina.3

Furthermore, a video on YouTube entitled “How Sina Weibo deceives its users” clearly shows how Sina Weibo limits the number of followers of some accounts. Ms Liu Ping is an indepedent candidate for the local people’s congress of Jiangxi province. Because of her candidateship, over 30,000 people follow her on Sina Weibo at some point. But then Sina Weibo uses deception to reduce her followings. When other users click to follow her on Weibo, the system will send a message showing that the operation is successful, when in fact it is not. Now, the number of followers of Liu Ping’s account has dropped to 20,000.4

Chinese internet users cannot count on any legal remedies against the actions of Sina which go beyond the bottom line.

Chinese netizens have previously tried to sue Chinese Internet companies for their censorship practices. But none of the cases have ever received a trial. On 16 August 2007, Chinese human rights lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan went to the Beijing Haidian court to sue Internet services provider Sohu for hiding blog posts. The court accepted and filed the case on the same day. But on 12 September, the same court refused to accept the case, which was assigned the civil case number 23191. Liu appealed to no avail.

Some suggest to sue Sina in its place of registration or listing. However, according to publicly available information, what we normally refer to as the Sina portal is different from and has no subordinate relationship with the NASDAQ-listed Sina Corp.

The NASDAQ-listed Sina Corp is a holding company registered in the Cayman Islands. It has four subsidiaries, namely the Hong Kong Sina Co. Ltd. (which operates the Hong Kong Sina portal), Lifang (Hong Kong) Investment Co. Ltd., the California-registered Sina Online (which includes two Sina portals in North America and Taiwan), and the British Virgin Islands-registered Sina Limited.

In mainland China, Sina has registered several companies using the variable interest entities (VIEs) structure, including Beijing Sina Information Technology Co. Ltd., Sina Interactive Corp, Sitonglifang Software Corp, and Beijing MicroDream Creation Internet Technology Co. Ltd. Sina Information Technology operates the content part of the Sina portal, and holds the ICP, news publishing permit and other relevant licenses; MicroDream operates Sina Weibo and independently holds the ICP and other licenses.

Sina Interactive is fully in charge of the advertising business on the Sina portal and Weibo, while Sitonglifang provides technical support to Sina Information Technology and MicroDream. Advertising and gaming revenues from the Sina portal and Weibo are shared to Sina Interactive through an agreement. For Sifanglitong, it receives revenues in the form of fees for technical support. In turn, profits from these two companies are transferred to a subsidiary fully owned by the listed Sina Corp through other agreements.

The Sina portal and Weibo cooperate with the Chinese government on censorship, and they are respectively operated by Beijing Sina Information Technology Co. Ltd. and Beijing MicroDream Creation Internet Technology Co. Ltd. These are purely Chinese entities which only have business and contract relationships but no direct affiliation with the listed Sina Corp. Therefore, it is impossible to force them to stop censorship by taking action in the place of registration or listing of Sina Corp.

In 2011, several New York residents tried to sue Baidu Corp in a US district court for “shielding” the information they published online. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said that China’s management of the Internet is in line with international practices. This is an act of sovereignty which foreign courts have no jurisdiction under international law.

We know that China has severe restriction on public speech, and it is not realistic to request Sina to completely abandon censorship. However, in view of the reality that Chinese netizens have no effective channels to limit the behaviors of Sina, we believe that appealing to the investors of Sina Corp to reduce their shareholding could weaken Sina’s efforts in censorship. This can force Sina to follow clear censorship rules and ensure that users can seek judicial relief in China or third places.

According to Sina Corp’s 2011 second quarter financial report, although revenue has increased year on year, the net profit is down 60.3% to US$10 million. “The operating expense of the second quarter of 2011 is US$59.7 million, compared with US$32 million for the same period last year. The increase in operating expense is mainly related to Weibo marketing and human resources.” According to outside estimates, Sina employs nearly 1,000 people to censor Weibo. For some time in future, Sina Corp will continue to increase spending on marketing and staffing related to Weibo. We think that it is feasible to pressure Sina to reduce its censorship efforts by dumping Sina’s stocks.

The Chinese government’s policy on Weibo has a significant effect on the prospects of Sina. Holding the shares of Sina Corp entails tremendous uncertainty. On 20 September 2011, the share price of Sina dropped by 15.17% to US$92.76, the greatest daily drop since December 2008. Sina’s market capitalization has shrinked by US$1 billion to US$6 billion. Market commentators attribute this drop to concerns over regulatory risks.5

On 17 October 2011, Beijing Daily published an anonymous op-ed titled “Lack of credibility will mean the end of Weibo”, which calls for a real-name registration system for Weibo.6 The article criticizes the serious shortcomings which come with the rapid growth of Weibo. If left unchecked, these problems will threaten the society. It urges the government to purify the Internet through more comprehensive and targeted measures so that new media will be responsible for ensuring integrity. It suggests that the government should fully implement a real-name registration system for Weibo and an accountability system for online media. Guangdong’s Southern Metropolitan Daily thinks that “a strict real-name system may drive away users.”7

In a recent interview with CCTV’s program Economic Half-hour, Sina CEO Charles Chao commented that Weibo will be the future driving force of Sina.8 China’s regulatory policy towards Weibo will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the prospect of Sina. As social conflicts are becoming more acute, the government’s control on the society will tighten, and the space for free speech will shrink. In this context, Internet censorship will undoubtedly be strengthened, and the possibility of the Chinese government shutting down the microblogging services will always be with us.

Perpetrators and their collaborators should be punished. We hereby urge investors to reduce their shareholding in Sina based on both moral and rational judgments, thereby indirectly applying pressure to Sina and its microblogging service to get them onto censorship practices based on clear and transparent principles.

Written by: Beifeng

November 2011

引用文章:

注1:可能吧:新浪微博给我印象最深刻的10件事, http://www.kenengba.com/post/3019.html

注2:北风:新浪配合“他们”作恶的明确证据, http://www.bullogger.com/blogs/wenyc1230/archives/383569.aspx

注3:萧瀚:我为什么离开新浪微博? http://news.jcwb.net/news_of_microblog/378.html

注4:Youtube:新浪微博是如何故意欺骗用户的? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=543pH7uUd-g

注5:第一财经日报:微博监管风险重挫新浪股价 http://www.21cbh.com/HTML/2011-9-22/wMNDA3XzM2NzUwMg.html

注6:北京日报网络微博诚信缺失将无以立足, http://news.xinhuanet.com/politics/2011-10/17/c_122165528.htm

注7:南方都市报:微博要搞实名制? http://gcontent.oeeee.com/6/9a/69a5b5995110b36a/Blog/9a1/4437ac.html

注8:曹国伟:微博将是新浪未来驱动力, http://finance.sina.com/bg/tech/sinacn/20110226/0635235624.html