Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cisco Sued For Helping China Repress Falun Gong

News.com has a report of a class action lawsuit, filed by 11 plaintiffs who claimed they were tortured by the Chinese government, against Cisco for apparently supplying the government with the tools to track and (in some cases, falsely) arrest supposed members of Falun Gong:
The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, alleges that Golden Shield--described in Cisco marketing materials as Policenet--resulted in the arrest of as many as 5,000 Falun Gong members. Cisco "competed aggressively" for the contracts to design the Golden Shield system "with full knowledge that it was to be used for the suppression of the Falun Gong religion," according to the lawsuit.
While I find the Chinese government's actions in suppressing dissident reprehensible, I'm not at all sure how there's a legitimate case against Cisco here. It may have made a bad decision to do business with the Chinese government, but is that illegal? While News.com doesn't supply a copy of the lawsuit (and why not?), I can't see what legitimate charges there can be here. This seems like yet another case of misapplied liability. Obviously, these people feel they can't go after the Chinese government, but using Cisco as a legal proxy doesn't make much sense. I could see protesting Cisco's actions, but suing the company seems like a stretch.

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