Cisco Systems, a maker of Internet routing gear, customized its technology to help China track members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, according to a federal lawsuit filed last week by members of the movement.
The lawsuit, which relies on internal sales materials, also said that Cisco had tried to market its equipment to the Chinese government by using inflammatory language that stemmed from the Cultural Revolution.
The suit was filed on Thursday in US District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose by the Human Rights Law Foundation on behalf of members of Falun Gong. It contends that Cisco helped design the controversial “Golden Shield” firewall that is used to censor the Internet and track opponents of the Chinese government. The lawsuit names several Cisco executives, including the chairman and chief executive, John Chambers.
It seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages and to enjoin Cisco from unlawful activity.
When evidence of the company’s activities in China became public in 2008 through a leaked PowerPoint presentation, Cisco disassociated itself from the marketing materials, stating that they were the work of a low-level employee. On Friday the company said in a statement that there was “no basis” for the allegations and that it intended to “vigorously” defend itself.
“Cisco does not operate networks in China or elsewhere, nor does Cisco customize our products in any way that would facilitate censorship or repression,” the company stated.
The suit claims that additional Cisco marketing presentations prove that it promoted its technology as being capable of taking aim at dissident groups.
In one marketing slide, the goals of the Golden Shield are described as to “douzheng evil Falun Gong cult and other hostile elements.”
Douzheng is a Chinese term used to describe the persecution of undesirable groups. It was widely used by the Chinese Communist Party in the Cultural Revolution.
The 52-page lawsuit describes the Golden Shield as a system intended to censor Internet traffic flowing into China, and to identify and monitor opponents of the Chinese government. The suit states that Falun Gong members who used the Internet were tracked by the Golden Shield and then apprehended.
Members of the group who were arrested were tortured, and one member was beaten to death, the lawsuit says. Another plaintiff who was arrested has since vanished, the suit claims, and is presumed to be dead.
The lawsuit challenges Cisco’s assertion that it did not help design the firewall system or customize technology that it sold to meet government surveillance and censorship requirements.
Terri Marsh, a lawyer for the Human Rights Law Foundation in Washington, said the group had compiled detailed information about Cisco’s role in the design of Chinese information centers that host Falun Gong database applications connected to network surveillance and tracking systems. This information will be disclosed in court during the discovery phase of the trial, Marsh said.
The lawsuit states that other documents lay out design suggestions to the Chinese Ministry of Public Security on how to pursue dissidents effectively.
The lawsuit is based on the Alien Torts Statute, a federal law that permits foreign nationals to bring lawsuits in US federal court claiming violations of international law. They also have brought charges under the Torture Victim Protection Act and under California state law.
The suit names three Falun Gong members, Ivy He, of Canada; Liu Guifu, of New York State; and Charles Lee, a US citizen who was arrested when he went to China in 2003 and was held until 2006. It also is brought on behalf of eight unidentified Chinese citizens, who include those who were tortured and killed or are missing.
An Australian university student who has never visited China and has only a modest social media following would seem an unlikely target for the Chinese government. However, when a Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman personally denounced Drew Pavlou at a news conference, it was just the next phase in an extraordinary campaign against the 21-year-old that has fueled concerns over China’s targeting of critics overseas. Pavlou first placed himself in the superpower’s sights when in July last year he organized a small sit-in at the University of Queensland, where he studies, to protest against various Chinese government policies. Since then, the Global
‘ASKED TO MOVE OUT’: Indonesian coast guard personnel argued with a Chinese vessel over territorial claims after it entered the country’s exclusive economic zone An Indonesian patrol ship confronted a Chinese coast guard vessel that spent almost three days in waters where Indonesia claims economic rights and that are near the southernmost part of China’s disputed claims to the South China Sea. The Indonesian Maritime Security Agency on Friday night detected Chinese ship 5204 entering Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in what Indonesia calls the North Natuna Sea. The agency sent a patrol ship that closed within 1km of the Chinese coast guard vessel and they communicated to affirm their position and their nation’s claims to the area, Indonesian Maritime Security Agency head Aan Kurnia said. “We
BEFORE WINTER COMES: Snow cuts off roads into Ladakh for four months or more each year, so the crunch is on to get food, tents and high-altitude equipment to Leh From deploying mules to large transport aircraft, the Indian military has activated its entire logistics network to transport supplies to thousands of troops for a harsh winter along a bitterly disputed Himalayan border with China. In the past few months, one of India’s biggest military logistics exercises in years has brought vast quantities of ammunition, equipment, fuel, winter supplies and food into Ladakh, a region bordering Tibet that India administers as a union territory, officials said. The move was triggered by a border standoff with China in the snow deserts of Ladakh that began in May and escalated in June into hand-to-hand
Dark matter, mysterious invisible stuff that makes up most of the mass of galaxies, including the Milky Way, is confounding scientists again, with new observations of distant galaxies conflicting with the current understanding of its nature. Research published this week revealed an unexpected discrepancy between observations of dark matter concentrations in three massive clusters of galaxies encompassing trillions of stars and theoretical computer simulations of how dark matter should be distributed. “Either there is a missing ingredient in the simulations or we have made a fundamental incorrect assumption about the nature of dark matter,” Yale University astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan, a coauthor of