Yahoo has decided to end its email service in China and allow the users to switch to an alternate service called Aliyun. This may be a part of Yahoo’s wider efforts to cut down on a large number of its long-term products and focus on a select few.
Yahoo’s presence in China has been fairly controversial. The company has been fiercely criticized by human rights activists in the past because it was involved in turning over information to the Chinese authorities. This information, which also comprised of emails sent out by certain activisits, was then used by the government to indict the activists.
Yahoo later stated that it didn’t know the government was going to use the information to nab political dissidents. The company further revealed that it was legally obliged to provide the information, shall the authorities seek them. This may also be a reason why Yahoo is doing away with its email service in China altogether and wants out.
Although the shutting down of service will affect millions of users in the country, a China Yahoo spokesperson stated, “We will offer several options to our users to make this transition as smooth as possible, and China Yahoo! users will have four months time to migrate their accounts.”
The email service will be shut down by August 19, although if the users switch to Aliyun, they can continue receiving emails on their Yahoo accounts until the end of 2014. The announcement co-incides with Yahoo’s decision today to shut down a number of its products.