Cisco fostered Chinese repression, says lawsuit

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Chinese spiritual group Falun Gong has accused Cisco of designing a surveillance system for the Chinese government.

The suit, filed under international law last week in the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that Cisco was behind the so-called 'Golden Shield' firewall - claimed not only to censor the internet in the country but also to track dissidents.

It's been brought by the Washington DC-based Human Rights Law Foundation (HRLF), on Falun Gong's behalf. Falun Gong has long claimed that it's being persecuted by the government, saying its members have been subjected to forced labor, torture and death.

Cisdco's been fighting criticism of its activities in China since 2008, when a leaked presentation appeared to show that the company was marketing its technology to the Chinese government.

At the time, the company said that the presentation was the work of a rogue employee, and said it would not participate in repression.

But the new suit claims that Cisco was aware of the activies and even went further, actively promoting its products as being able to monitor the activities of Falun Gong members and customizing them to do so. And it says that many have been imprisoned, tortured or killed as a result.

According to the New York Times, the HRLF plans to provide detailed information that shows Cisco helped design information centers hosting database applications for the surveillance and tracking of Falun Gong members.