Last month, we wrote about Cisco’s plans to help the Chinese government build a massive camera surveillance network in the city of Chongqing. This is the same company that sold equipment to China to build the Great Firewall, which prevents Chinese Internet users from accessing much of the Internet, including online references to the Tiananmen Square protests, information on China’s human rights abuses, and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Reports indicate that Cisco has also customized its technology to help China with surveillance of political activists. We've had our eye on Cisco for years; in 2010, they were at the top of our list of "companies of interest" selling surveillance technologies to repressive regimes.
A lawsuit brought by Ward & Ward, PLLC against Cisco Systems, Inc., alleges that the company knowingly enabled the Chinese Communist Party’s harassment, arrest, and torture of Chinese political activists. Yesterday, as outlined in a blog post by his lawyers, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, dissident writer Du Daobin, was questioned by Party officials regarding his involvement.
According to his lawyers, "Mr. Du's persecution began in 2003, when he was arrested while his house was raided by Chinese authorities. On June 11, 2004, he was charged with 'inciting to subvert state power' and was sentenced to three years in prison for posting pro-democracy articles online. Instead of immediately serving that sentence, he was placed under probation for four years, after which it was determined that he violated the terms of his probation and was then forced to serve his original three year prison sentence. During his imprisonment, Mr. Du was subjected to extreme physical and psychological torture. By the time of his release in 2010, Du was suffering from extreme malnutrition, cardiac issues, could no longer walk without assistance, and was dependent on a wheelchair."
Mr. Du is once again under threat for challenging an American company’s policies and speaking out against censorship in China. EFF has created a petition calling on Cisco to use its influence to tell the Chinese government not to commit further human rights abuses in order to protect the company. We also call on Cisco to stop selling tools of repression in China and elsewhere around the world.