Dissidents, hurry up and delete all those illicit human-rights links from your browser history.
On behalf of the outlawed benevolent spiritual group/black renegade cult Falun Gong, the Human Rights Law Foundation has filed a U.S. federal lawsuit against Cisco Systems, claiming they corroborated with the Chinese government in monitoring the activities of dissident groups.
Naming several high-ranking company executives, including Cisco’s CEO and Chairman John Chambers, the Falun Gong accuses the networking giant of providing technical assistance, software applications and hardware for programs aimed at tracking dissident activities, and also playing a ‘major role’ in building the ‘Golden Shield’ filtering program, otherwise known as the Great Firewall of China.
The Financial Times reports that Cisco begs to differ:
Cisco said on Monday that it does nothing special for China and that its equipment’s functions can be altered by any customer.
“There is no basis for these allegations against Cisco, and we intend to vigorously defend against them,” it said. “Cisco does not operate networks in China or elsewhere, nor does Cisco customise our products in any way that would facilitate censorship or repression.
“Cisco builds equipment to … facilitate free exchange of information, and we sell the same equipment in China that we sell in other nations worldwide in strict compliance with US government regulations.”
Apparently, dipping a hand in the Chinese tech-industry cookie jar comes with serious catches for Western companies. If the allegations prove valid, then Cisco would join a who’s who of the world’s biggest tech companies that’ve collaborated with the Chinese government, including Microsoft and Google.
However, the most famous case of tech collaboration with the CCP belongs to Yahoo!, who’s CEO Jerry Yang was deemed to be a ‘moral pygmy’ in 2007 by Tom Lantos, then head of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Yang was forced to appear at a Congressional hearing after Yahoo! revealed the personal user data of Shi Tao and Wang Xiaoning to the Chinese government, leading to ten-year jail sentences for both men. Shi, a journalist, was jailed for posting a secret memo on media censorship regarding the 15th anniversary of what the government calls the ‘Political Turmoil between Spring and Summer of 1989’.
By Fan Huang