Cisco faces second suit over China actions

Alleges company supplied technology, training to round up dissidents

Cisco is now facing a second lawsuit alleging that the company's technology and training aided in identifying and monitoring Chinese dissidents.

The suit was filed on behalf of three Chinese writers who contribute to the websites of Harry Wu, executive director of the Laogai Research Foundation, according to this post on ITBusinessEdge. Wu is a Chinese political dissident who spent 19 years in Chinese forced-labor prison camps.

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The suit was filed earlier this week in U.S. District Court in Maryland, according to the blog. It charges Cisco with essentially optimizing its equipment and providing the training to allow Chinese authorities and the government to detect and track individuals engaging anonymously in pro-democracy political commentary on the Internet.

Cisco was sued last month by members of the Falun Gong religious group, claiming that Cisco supplied technology to the Chinese government knowing it would be used to oppress the movement.

Cisco denies both charges in a blog posted on its website by General Counsel Mark Chandler:

"Our company has been accused in a pair of lawsuits of contributing to the mistreatment of dissidents in China, based on the assertion that we customize our equipment to participate in tracking of dissidents. The lawsuits are inaccurate and entirely without foundation ... 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."

Chandler states that Cisco equipment supplied to China is the same as that supplied to public libraries in the U.S. to block inappropriate content, and to global businesses and service providers to stop viruses and attempts to disable infrastructure using "industry-standard network management capabilities."

Cisco denied similar allegations in 2008 when the company testified before U.S. Congress. Questions about Cisco's involvement with Chinese Internet censorship efforts were raised after a company PowerPoint had surfaced that referred to the suppression of the Falun Gong and "other hostiles."

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