Posts Tagged ‘technology’

SOPA/PIPA protests draw parallels to China’s “Great Firewall”

January 20, 2012

Today marked a momentous occasion as the United States Senate and House of Representatives agreed to put two Internet anti-piracy bills on hold in the wake of public outcry over the reach of the bills. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) sparked mass online protests on Wednesday, with some websites such as Wikipedia going dark for a 24-hour period and redirecting its users to contact their Congressman. At the heart of the controversy was a belief that the bills would impose a huge burden on websites to police user activity on their sites and remove any content suspected of violating intellectual property rights.  Failure to comply would give the Justice Department broad powers to block access to domain names in their entireties and prevent search engines from listing them in their results.  The hold on the bills is the result of many Senators and Congressmen responding to the concerns of its constituents, expressed in such volume that many congressional websites crashed on Wednesday afternoon.

These bills and the government’s attempts to police the content of websites has led many to draw parallels with the Chinese government’s “Great Firewall” and its constant vigilance over the activities of Chinese dissidents on the internet.  Many bloggers and activists in China found some humor and irony in the events as they unfolded:

 Watching from China, where Web censorship is practically a national hallmark, some can’t help but smirk and crack jokes about the controversy raging over Internet freedom in the U.S.

“Now the U.S. government is copying us and starting to build their own firewall,” wrote one micro-blogger, relating China’s chief censorship tool to the U.S. plan to block sites that trade in pirated material.

The Relevant Organs, an anonymous Twitter account (presumably) pretending to be the voice of the Chinese communist leadership, quipped: “Don’t understand the hoopla over Wikipedia blackout in the U.S. today. We blacked it out here years ago. Where are OUR hugs?”

While it might be tempting to compare SOPA/PIPA to the Chinese firewall, the reality is they are vastly different devices. The United States government, in seeking these bills, is seeking to combat Internet piracy (often conducted from China), a legitimate cause pursued in a misguided manner. The Chinese government, on the other hand, is seeking to censor its own people and remove any hints of opposition, dissidence, or open debate of politics or policy.

Yet it is interesting to compare the American’s public response to the bill, and their success in opposing it, with the reality Chinese citizens face in being unable to protest the actions or policy of their Government without facing severe consequences.

 “Only an American company could protest the way Wikipedia or Google has to the government,” said Zhao Jing, a closely followed blogger in Beijing who uses the pen name Michael Anti. “A Chinese company would never get away with that.”

Indeed, China’s Internet sector has no choice but to submit to government pressure -– be it by censoring its own users or implementing whatever happens to be the state initiative of the moment (the latest may require the real-ID registration of 250 million micro-blog accounts despite threats to privacy and the cost burden on Web firms).

Another distinction Chinese activists note is that the proposed legislation in Washington is being debated openly in public and ultimately has to adhere to U.S. law. Chinese censorship, on the other hand, operates in an opaque space where no one really knows what’s banned, what isn’t and who is calling the shots.

While U.S. companies such as Wikipedia and Reddit can comfortably participate in an “Internet Blackout” and American citizens are able, and in fact encouraged, to contact their Congressmen in opposition to a bill, Chinese citizens have no recourse to petition their government to change course. In fact, to do so is to put oneself in the scope of the Chinese government’s police.

One of the companies that led the charge against SOPA/PIPA was of course Google, the largest search engine in the United States and a company that would have found itself having to censor its search results if the bill was passed.  Google has a history of opposing Internet censorship wherever it may be, starting with China itself. In 2010 it declared it would cease to cooperate with the Chinese government’s attempt to censor the Internet, a move that caused much controversy around the world.

Sadly, not all U.S. tech companies have demonstrated the same courage as Google, and worse still some have played crucial roles in helping China continue to develop its system of Internet censorship and violations of human rights. Through this all, Cisco Systems has continued to act as a partner and collaborator with Chinese government’s as it pursues the “Golden Shield Project”

Internet companies and citizens alike should be encouraged by their success in lobbying their representatives to change course and protect the Internet from censorship. Likewise, they should continue to oppose censorship wherever it may be and let Cisco Systems know that their continued and knowing support of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to violate the human rights of peaceful political dissidents like Du Daobin, Zhou Yuanzhi, and Liu Xianbin will no longer be tolerated.  Contact your elected representatives — let them know how you feel.  Finally, if you haven’t already done so, sign the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s petition– Tell Cisco: Stop helping China abuse human rights!.

Partner or Collaborator? Corporate Counsel Magazine on Cisco’s Relationship with China

October 20, 2011

The November issue of Corporate Counsel Magazine contains an interesting article on Cisco’s relationship with China, aptly titled “Partner or Collaborator?  Cisco discovers the perils of doing business in China.

The article addresses both the Du v. Cisco and Doe v. Cisco cases, and Cisco’s muted response to the accusations that have been made and substantial evidence support our clients’ claims.  Daniel Ward is quoted extensively about Cisco’s actions and Du v. Cisco:

The writers are represented by Daniel Ward, a partner at Ward & Ward in Washington, D.C., who filed the suit in federal district court in Greenbelt, Maryland. “This wasn’t just Cisco ignorantly selling routers to an oppressive regime and saying, ‘Gee, let’s hope for the best,’” says Ward. “This is them actively marketing themselves as an entity that could help in the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to oppress dissidents.”

Attorney Ward’s goal is changing the way Cisco and other companies weigh market opportunities. China “is seeking American technological know-how to crush dissent, and those American technology companies know it, but the draw of profits is irresistible to them,” he says.

He believes Yahoo made serious changes as a result of being sued. He hopes the suit against Cisco yields similar results. With Cisco, he says, “our goal is to make that cost-benefit analysis shift.”

As we have stated previously, there is no doubt there is more evidence out there regarding Cisco’s ongoing support of the Chinese Communist Party’s continued oppression of its citizens.  If you have any information, please do not hesitate to contact Daniel Ward.  Any such communications will be kept confidential.

Let Cisco Systems know that their continued and knowing support of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to violate the human rights of peaceful political dissidents like Du Daobin, Zhou Yuanzhi, and Liu Xianbin will no longer be tolerated.  Contact your elected representatives — let them know how you feel.  Finally, if you haven’t already done so, sign the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s petition– Tell Cisco: Stop helping China abuse human rights!.

NYT reports new evidence of Cisco’s knowing aid to China re: Golden Shield

September 2, 2011

A Friday evening New York Times article reported that new evidence has been discovered that Cisco Systems, Inc. specifically tailored its products for use by the Chinese Communist Party to monitor and apprehend its citizens.

The Human Rights Law Foundation, an advocacy group involved in Doe v. Cisco, an Alien Tort Statute lawsuit brought against Cisco on behalf of a number of Falun Gong practitioners, announced Friday that it has new evidence that Cisco Systems, Inc. specifically tailored its products for use by the Chinese Communist Party to monitor and apprehend Falun Gong practitioners.

This evidence, if authenticated, would eviscerate Cisco’s position (as stated by their General Counsel, Mark Chandler) that  “Cisco does not supply equipment to China that is customized in any way to facilitate blocking of access or surveillance of users.”  and that “We have never customized our equipment to help the Chinese government—or any government—censor content, track Internet use by individuals or intercept Internet communications.”

There is no doubt there is more evidence out there regarding Cisco’s ongoing support of the Chinese Communist Party’s continued oppression of its citizens.  If you have any information, please do not hesitate to contact Daniel Ward.  Any such communications will be kept confidential.

Let Cisco Systems know that their continued and knowing support of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to violate the human rights of peaceful political dissidents like Du Daobin, Zhou Yuanzhi, and Liu Xianbin will no longer be tolerated.   Contact your elected representatives, let them know how you feel.  Finally, if you haven’t already done so, sign the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s petition– Tell Cisco: Stop helping China abuse human rights!.

Who is Liu Xianbin?

August 30, 2011

The Laogai Research Foundation has authored an excellent blog post titled “Who is Liu Xianbin?” that puts a “human face” on Liu Xianbin, one of the named plaintiffs in Du v. Cisco.  I encourage all the readers of this blog to click over to the Laogai Research Foundation’s blog to learn more about Liu Xianbin.

Continued Media Attention on Du v. Cisco

August 30, 2011

Over the past week, there has been increased media attention on Du v. Cisco.

Last Monday, Daniel Ward was interviewed on Asia Pacific Forum, for a segment titled “Partners in the Police State? US Tech Giant Cisco Sued for Aiding China.”  Cindy Cohn, Legal Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation was also interviewed for that segment.

Yesterday, Daniel Ward was interviewed on the Marketplace Tech Report, for a segment titled “Suit says Cisco is helping China commit Crimes.”  John Palfrey, co-director of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society and a professor at Harvard Law School, was also interviewed for that segment.

The Committee to Protect Journalists recently wrote about Du v. Cisco in a post titled “In lawsuit, Chinese writers allege Cisco aids government.”  That article observes that “The threat of legal action may encourage other businesses to examine any potential negative impact of their activities in China” and provides the following quote from EFF’s Cindy Cohn:

“It’s no longer acceptable for companies to plead ignorance about how technology they sell is used,” said Cohn of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “It’s incumbent upon experts in the field to create standards to guide companies in making ethical business practices, so that companies like Cisco can’t delude themselves or their investors about the blood-stained profits they derived from their business deals with China or other authoritarian governments.”

The growing attention given to Cisco’s actions in China should give Cisco, and other American corporations working with the Chinese Communist Party, pause and concern over their continued willingness to accept “blood-stained profits” from the Chinese Communist Party.

Let Cisco Systems know that their support of the Chinese Communist Party, and its efforts to violate the human rights of peaceful political dissidents like Du Daobin, Zhou Yuanzhi, and Liu Xianbin will no longer be tolerated by contacting your elected representatives and by signing the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s petition– Tell Cisco: Stop helping China abuse human rights!.

Excellent Electronic Frontier Foundation Post on Du v. Cisco

August 22, 2011

The EFF continues its active interest in Du v. Cisco.  The EFF’s recent post, “Cisco and Abuses of Human Rights in China: Part 1” provides a comprehensive background on Du v. Cisco and addresses the ethical issues corporations face when dealing with oppressive regimes.  It is an excellent read for any and all interested in these important issues.

Most important to this of us involved in Du v. Cisco was the EFF’s call for action (directed at Cisco) to preserve the safety of our clients.  In the post, the EFF writes:

“To clarify, we are asking Cisco to contact their customers and business partners in the Chinese government and tell them not to target the plaintiffs in Du v. Cisco or Doe v. Cisco. We hope Cisco will prove that they don’t condone bullying tactics used to repress free speech and that they believe these disputes should be settled under the rule of law, not the iron fist. We’d be particularly pleased if Cisco would make a public statement about their stance on the continued safety of the plaintiffs – and it would certainly go a long way to improving their public image at this time when the world is watching. But above all, we urge Cisco to use every method at their disposal to ensure that Du Daobin and all of the plaintiffs in both cases make it through the court process, and beyond, unharmed by Chinese officials.”

We couldn’t agree more.  Hopefully Cisco does as well, and will let the Chinese Communist Party know that their harassment of the Du Plaintiffs (and those in Doe v. Cisco) is neither wanted nor helpful.  Time will tell.  I am looking forward to reading “Part II” of this series.

Daniel Ward interviewed tonight at 9:00 PM re: Du v. Cisco

August 22, 2011

Daniel Ward will be interviewed this evening at 9:00 PM on the Asia Pacific Forum about Du v. Cisco in a segment titled “Partners in the Police State?  US Tech Giant Cisco Sued for Aiding China.”  If you are in the New York City listening area, tune in to WBAI, 99.5.  Otherwise, listen on the web.

Again, the safety of our clients in Du v. Cisco is dependent, in no small part, on the fact that the world is watching.  Keep watching, and let Cisco know you are are watching by signing the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s petition– Tell Cisco: Stop helping China abuse human rights!  We also ask that you contact your elected representatives in Congress and let them know that complicity in the abuse of human rights by American corporations should no longer be tolerated.

Who is Du Daobin?

August 16, 2011

Du Daobin is one of the earliest cyber dissident writers in China.  By the time of his detention in October 2003, he had published tens of articles on the internet at home and abroad. In June 2004, he was charged with “inciting to subvert state power” and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. Instead of serving his prison sentence immediately, it was postponed while he spent four years under probation.

In June of 2008, on the eve of the Summer Olympics to be held in China, the authorities accused Du of disobeying the rules of probation, as he had continued to write articles critical of the regime. Thus, after four years of probation, Mr. Du was sent to serve his 3-year prison term. While in prison, he was subjected to physical and psychological torture and was held under the most stringent control.  He was forced to sit on a low bench for two months, which led to cardiac prolapse. After this incident, due to malnutrition and potassium deficiency, he lost his ability to walk and for a long time he was dependent on a wheelchair. Although today he is free and able to walk, Du remains under close watch. Who is this man that China views as such a threat, and what is it about his writings that has the government so nervous?

Du Daobin was born in Wuhan, Hubei Province in 1964. Formerly an employee of the district government, Du was a firm believer of communism. He read the works of Marx, Lenin, and Mao Zedong and took up writing poetry. After the tragic events of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Du sympathized with the students and strongly opposed the killing that occurred. This marked an ideological and political turning point for Mr. Du.  Before officially becoming a Communist Party member, he retracted his application. He began to write works in support of the democracy movement and since 1997 he has been exploring the ideas of liberalism and promoting China’s path to democracy.

Originally just a supporter of the movement, as Du became more outspoken, he too became a victim of the government’s crackdown on freedom of speech. Starting in 2001, Du published articles on a number of Chinese websites, calling for fair treatment of city and rural dwellers, social security and fair wages for farmers, and for the abolishment of the discriminatory policies of usury towards farmers. He also published articles on foreign websites, severely criticizing Chinese Communist Party ideals and the one-party dictatorship system and policy.

Despite his sentencing in 2003, Du continued to write under a pseudonym and from January 2005 to June 2008, he wrote over 100 articles for Laogai Research Foundation’s Observe China website. His most influential writings from this period are those advocating for the installation of an election system in China, including: Chinese People Should Try by Every Means to Be Elected As Representatives, We Simply Can’t Do Without People’s Representatives, Indirect Democracy and Deputy Representatives: Shortcomings and Questions, Various Nonsense That Attempts to Prevent the Installation of Election in China, Peoples’ Sovereignty Dwells in Just and Fair Election, Direct Election and Social Stability: Are They In Sharp Contradiction? When Can China Kick Off Direct Election? These articles approach many aspects of the possible establishment of direct election in China or the modification of the existing People’s Representative system. They have been widely reposted after they were first published on Observe China. He continues to be an outspoken critic of China’s internet surveillance, oppression of freedom of speech, and the government’s handling of many social issues.

Du Daobin is no criminal, yet he has been continually persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party for expressing his ideas and encouraging public discussion about democratic reform. Even though Du was released in 2010, he is not really free. He is not able to use his real name to publish articles domestically or internationally; he is not allowed to leave China and he must report to the police department if he wishes to leave his city. Du’s guests are tightly regulated, questioned, and placed under surveillance.  The Public Security Bureau has threatened many times that they “may hinder his child’s educational advancement,” and on many occasions they have intercepted Du’s mail and royalty checks. His internet is constantly monitored, the speed of which is so slow that it sometimes takes an hour to load one page, and he constantly gets redirected to other webpages. He has not had a job since he was set free and thus does not have a stable income. As a result of this harassment and hardship, Du’s wife has moved out and left him solely responsible for raising their child.

This is why Du Daobin has taken part in the lawsuit against Cisco Systems, Inc. currently pending in Federal Court in Maryland. Through “Golden Shield” network and internet surveillance technology provided by Cisco, China’s Ministry of Public Security has been able to monitor and track down dissidents like Du who dare to exercise freedom of speech against the Chinese Communist Party’s wishes. Since filing the lawsuit, he has come under even closer scrutiny- Du was interrogated earlier this month by officials from the Ministry of Public Security about his involvement in the Du v. Cisco.

As I have said before, Du Daobin’s safety depends, in no small part, on the fact that the world is watching.  Keep watching, and let Cisco know you are are watching by signing the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s petition– Tell Cisco: Stop helping China abuse human rights!

This post was written by the Laogai Research Foundation.

 

 

 

 

Further Coverage of Du v. Cisco

August 16, 2011

The Sydney Morning Herald article addressing the Du v. Cisco lawsuit  has generated additional media interest.  The Frontline, a UK technology website run by V3, has also taken an interest in Du v. Cisco.  The Frontline article, “Cisco implicated in Chinese human rights abuses as second Golden Shield lawsuit gathers pace” is certainly worth a read.

As I have previously stated, recent events lead us to believe that the safety of our clients in Du v. Cisco is dependent, in no small part, on the fact that the world is watching.  Keep watching, and let Cisco know you are watching.

Sydney Morning Herald Article on Du Daobin v. Cisco

August 16, 2011

Asher Moses, the Sydney Morning Herald’s Technology Editor, wrote an excellent article in today’s Sydney Morning Herald outlining the Du v. Cisco lawsuit and Cisco’s activities in China in general.  While the U.S. media has been slow to report on this issue, we are enthused to see such in-depth reporting from esteemed outlets such as the Sydney Morning Herald and the Economist.

Recent events lead us to believe that the safety of our clients in Du v. Cisco is dependent, in no small part, on the fact that the world is watching.  Keep watching, and let Cisco know you are watching.


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