Cisco sued for grassing up Chinese dissidents

Cisco is being sued by Chinese political prisoners for allegedly providing the snooping technology and expertise used by the Chinese Communist Party.

The outfit is being sued in the US by Du Daobin, Zhou Yuanzhi, Liu Xianbin and 10 unnamed others.

Daniel Ward, of US law firm Ward & Ward told AP that Cisco’s actions were similar to IBM’s behaviour in Nazi Germany.

Cisco has rejected the allegations as baseless, but has a problem in that much of the evidence of the case stems from an internal company presentation.

The slide shows that Cisco was involved with building the Golden Shield Project, which is also known as the Great Firewall of China. On one hand it is used by the Chinese government to eliminate references to politically sensitive topics such as Tiananmen Square, Liu Xiaobo and the Jasmine Revolution sweeping through the Middle East.

The leaked internal Cisco presentation from 2002 reveals how its products can address China’s goals of “maintaining stability”, “stop the network-related crimes” and “combat ‘Falun Gong’ evil religion and other hostiles”.

There is a page which talks about “networked prisons and jails”, describing how information about a suspect travels through Cisco’s system from the time a suspect is first jailed to when they are released.

It links jails and police departments and the plaintiffs claim it has directly aided in tracking down dissidents and keeping them under oppressive surveillance.

Ward said that Cisco was not just selling routers to a corrupt regime. He said they were selling technology, training and software specifically designed to monitor, censor and suppress the Chinese people. What makes it worse is that they have been selling the gear knowing how the Chinese treat dissenters.

Ward claims one of the dissidents suing Cisco, Du Daobin, has been extensively interrogated by Chinese authorities over his involvement in the case and has been kept under 24-hour surveillance. Du received a four-year prison term in 2003 for posting pro-democracy articles online, but the sentence was suspended for four years. In 2008, his sentence was reinstated and he was imprisoned for two years.