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Yahoo escapes the Great Firewall; shuts down email in China

Yahoo has stopped providing email services in China, effectively meaning that the company has ceased its operations in the country. The reason for the exit, much like other tech companies, was the “increasingly challenging business and legal environment in China.”

The company had previously advised users in an email dated February 26 to shift to alternative email providers and download any contacts, schedules and other content stating that the service would be going down February 28, and sure enough, it did. 

The advisory also stated that the users would not send or receive emails from Mainland China following the shutdown. For users who were unable to follow Yahoo’s instructions and download their emails using IMAP, their data is as good as gone unless they can mask their IP addresses. 

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Great Firewall forces yet another tech company out

Yahoo isn’t the first tech company to cease operations in the country. Microsoft pulled LinkedIn out of the region back in October 2021, citing a challenging operating environment and greater compliance requirements in the country. Yahoo itself had ditched operations in the country in November 2021 following the Personal Information Protection Law’s enforcement. 

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The PIPL requires global companies to control data storage and privacy in a way that pleases the government. This has led to the law being quite strict and vague in places. 

Yahoo’s search engine has also not been operational in the country for several years now because of the great Chinese Firewall. Yahoo China had already closed its email service in August 2013. This was saved by Alibaba buying a 20% stake in the company in 2012 and then managing the email migration under Yahoo’s name thanks to the tech and IP cross-licensing deal. 

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