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China Government Networking Privacy

Cisco Helps China Keep an Eye On Its Citizens 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the every-step-you-take dept.
doperative writes "Western companies including Cisco Systems Inc. are poised to help build an ambitious new surveillance project in China — a citywide network of as many as 500,000 cameras that officials say will prevent crime but that human-rights advocates warn could target political dissent. An examination of the Peaceful Chongqing project by The Wall Street Journal shows Cisco is expected to supply networking equipment that is essential to operating large and complicated surveillance systems, according to people familiar with the deal."
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Cisco Helps China Keep an Eye On Its Citizens

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    • ??? non sequitor I fancy ???
    • by Gordonjcp (186804)

      One of the things that amazes me about the US is that there is blanket CCTV coverage, and people refuse to believe it's there.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        [citation needed]
        Seriously, not sure why or how you can make that claim. It's definitely not blanket, and even in major cities it tends to be rather spotty. Traffic cams, sure, but most other coverage is from private security footage that the police have to ask for if they want to even investigate a major crime. Only place there is blanket coverage by the government is in/ near government buildings. Also, possibly Washington DC.

        • by Gordonjcp (186804)

          So, pretty much the same as the UK, then?

          You do *know* that the ridiculous figures of something like 1500 cameras per person in the UK was entirely made up by a tabloid journalist, don't you? What they did was count up the number of cameras in a short stretch of a busy street in a rough part of London - all the bookies, off-licences, and even more unsavoury places - and multiplied by the total distance of all the roads in the UK. If the figure was even remotely accurate, it would mean that on every single

      • by GigG (887839)
        I guess that depends on your idea of blanket and US for that matter.
      • by EdIII (1114411)

        Unless you watched Eagle Eye and though it was a documentary, the vast majority of the CCTV networks are of poor quality and not interconnected at all.

        I get your point, but the truth is that I have seen the quality of the video in my city on the traffic cams, and unless they are really hiding something, I can't figure out how you could even get a license plate off a car with it. In any case, that is the only known interconnected system in my city.

        Everything else is private. I manage several branch offices

        • by Gordonjcp (186804)

          What is happening in China and the UK is much much different. It is a coordinated effort to watch the citizens and invade their privacy

          As a previous poster said, [citation needed].

          In what way does half a dozen video cameras in the centre of a city, and half a dozen cameras spread out around some of the more notorious motorway junctions infringe my privacy?

          • by EdIII (1114411)

            As a previous poster said, [citation needed].

            Seriously? Citation needed? This is common knowledge at this point.

            The UK government has made it clear that they have a massive coordinated effort aimed at reducing crime (watching the citizens). How many Slashdot stories, or CNN, BBC news stories do I need to link too on this?

            As far as China goes..... I think that they have made it quite clear and not just with cameras. They have people looking at instant messages, the Great Firewall, etc. If you really need a citation to know that the Chinese Governmen

  • Same Old Cisco (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @01:30PM (#36663166) Journal
    In 2008 it was revealed that The Great Firewall of China was just a huge opportunity to them [wired.com] to sell more routers. In May, Falun Gong sued them [slashdot.org]. Even shareholders have been uneasy with Cisco's fervent complacency [slashdot.org] and complete lack of human rights doctrine. I think as far back as 2004 we've discussed the Amnesty report naming Cisco [slashdot.org].

    I think this is just more of the same. They sold China the equipment for the great firewall and you are surprised that Cisco is chomping at the bit for the next big project? The only headline newsworthy enough would be if Cisco refused to make a buck on the grounds that their product will obviously be used to repress peaceful foreign citizens or keep 1/6 of the world's population censored.
    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Champing at the bit, not chomping. English, learn it.

      • Chomp is a variant of champ, which makes both forms valid...

        English, learn it.

        Quite so.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        While you are technically correct, the majority of people use chomping [googlefight.com]. I know that doesn't make it right, but just because you are right, doesn't mean people won't look at you like you have 3 head when you say "champing at the bit".
        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          The majority of people are always idiots. Does not mean I have to be one too.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Oops, to late.

          • by CRCulver (715279)
            The meaning of words is determined by usage, and usage naturally changes over time. This has been recognized for over a century now, ever since Saussure discovered l'arbitraire du signe. If the majority of people are saying "chomping at the bit", that doesn't mean that they are idiots, it just means that the English language is changing like all languages do.
          • by 228e2 (934443)
            ^This.

            The majority of people have a rather sad IQ. Why would I follow them off of the cliff?
    • Re:Same Old Cisco (Score:5, Interesting)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @01:34PM (#36663230) Journal
      In the spirit of idle curiousity, I have to wonder if Cisco is purely an amoral, sociopathic, profit-seeking entity, and just doesn't give a fuck, or whether their higher-ups actually get the warm and fuzzies from the fact that they are on the leading edge of Benthamite dystopia technology?

      They could, certainly, just be swallowing their doubts and keeping an eye on the bottom line; but nothing says that the people within the corporation are having to battle pangs of conscience in order to do what is profitable.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        ... is purely an amoral, sociopathic, profit-seeking entity, and just doesn't give a fuck,

        Well, that's the sociological description of a corporation: legally, a sociopathic person.

        Which then brings up another question - if one has to conform to the norms of said corporation, does that make one a sociopath?

        For example, if you're working for a large corporation that makes a product that harms the public and you are the one who denies that there is anything wrong or you are a scientist that has to come up with "data" that refutes others findings of said harm, doesn't that make you a sociopath t

        • From my experience working in the defense/surveillance industry, its mostly greed, injected with a dose of power-lust. For the most part, people don't have to fight moral qualms because they just don't ask themselves those kinds of questions.

      • And in the end, it really doesn't matter, publicly traded corporations are by definition amoral, sociopathic, profit-only-seeking entities. Because, of course, if they WEREN'T, they "could be" sued by their shareholders for not being amorally sociopathic enough. So the greedy assholes at the top of the corporation have all the moral cover they need to do anything they want which isn't demonstrably illegal - because if they don't do it, someone else (another amoral sociopathic corporation) will. The only p
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Thats not exactly true. Maybe in some idealized abstracted world it would be, but we live in a real world where corporations are made of and work with and for real, feeling people. Hence, corporations that DO act like amoral sociopaths get boycotts, government legislation, etc. Perhaps not as much as one would wish, but still. Because of this, many companies do try to be genuinely good corporate citizens and treat their customers well. And of course, some companies even go so far as to do so just because th

          • And, of course, corporations, being abstractions, don't do anything. Their directors, officers, and employees do.

          • The corporations have a fiduciary duty to maximize profits. Look at Wal*Mart, people boycott them all the time, but it still makes economic sense for them to not care since complying with the demands of the boycott would be less profitable than just ignoring them.
        • by Akima (1998920)

          I love this discussion! I don't think I can contribute anything useful to it though. If a person (human person that is - not one of those fictional ones) has not realised by now just how bad Corporations are and just how much better the world would be if we completely removed the Corporate legal structure which allows these aberrations to come into being then there is nothing that can be said to wake up them up from their perpetual slumber... except maybe The Corporation http://www.imdb.com/title/tt037922 [imdb.com]

      • I think it is mostly that they are doing exactly what their shareholders want and fulfilling their fiduciary duty. So the short answer is option 1:

        an amoral, sociopathic, profit-seeking entity, and just doesn't give a fuck

        .

        • That is certainly the correct model for Cisco Systems, Inc.(which is why I classified my question as "idle curiosity"). I'm just curious, though, are the relevant Ciscolings, as they go about their dirty work, trying to comfort themselves or patting themselves on the back? Is their little internal monologue going through some sort of "Well, if we don't, Alcatel will..." rationalization? Is somebody growing awkwardly tumescent in their corner office at the 'utopian' vision of discipline and social order that
    • Cisco's share price is currently very low--significantly undervalued, and with several markets at risk. If they want to attract shareholders, big new business opportunities go a long way toward doing that. It would take a really remarkable company to turn down this kind of business opportunity for ethical reasons.

    • by swalve (1980968)
      Cisco sells communications hardware. What's wrong with selling more?
    • I think at some level networking equipment companies in general suffer from this problem. For example appliances that track employees internet usage beyond simply acting as a firewall to protect company resources. Boss says sure check your bank account at work on your break, it helps have a reasonable quality of life. But then someone even higher up has decided that they will monitor everything everyone does. Or filtering sites based on some automatic algorithm that decides bad or good. In my experience it
  • Money! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @01:32PM (#36663188)
    Stuff the ideals, stuff the responsibility, stuff the "doing the right thing", we want money & we don't care how we get it.
    Bah!
  • So what? Cisco has a good track record on these type of things in US cities, just go ask your mayor about his traffic cams and security around city hall

    this crap doesnt run on bubble gum and wishes ya know

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      And as a publicly traded company, Cisco has an obligation to make as much money as they can for their shareholders. So unless it is illegal to export these products to China, they would be in the wrong to not sell their products to China, since they probably make quite a bit of money from them. The only reason they wouldn't sell their products to China would be if it caused customers to leave based on the fact that they were selling to China. I don't think most of their major customers care in the least a
      • And as a publicly traded company, Cisco has an (unofficial) obligation to operate abroad as it would at home. US Citizens cannot go abroad and commit crimes legal in one country that are illegal in the US, so why should we allow companies to do the same?
        • by v1 (525388)

          Cisco has an (unofficial) obligation to operate abroad as it would at home.

          Sounds like that could be paraphrased as "Cisco has a moral obligation to..."

          But Cisco you see, is a company. And companies have no moral obligations, other than greed, on behalf of their shareholders.

        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          They aren't doing anything illegal. All their doing is selling tools. What people choose to do with those tools is up to them. Cisco has no control over what the end user does with the items they sell. And as others have mentioned, the US, UK, and others are using the exact same devices to do the exact same thing to their own citizens. Why is it all right for the some countries to do this but not other
        • by lbgator (1208974)

          ... US Citizens cannot go abroad and commit crimes legal in one country that are illegal in the US...

          Really? The US should put warnings on planes bound for Amsterdam then.

          • They do. I believe it's stated in your passport. More specifically, it's in the US Code. Title 18, Part I, Chapter 1, 7, which states that the US has jurisdiction "(7) Any place outside the jurisdiction of any nation with respect to an offense by or against a national of the United States."
        • by swalve (1980968)
          Not even a little bit. They have an obligation to comply with the laws of jurisdictions that have jurisdiction over them. Unless the US says "you can't sell to China", they can sell to China.

          Would you expect a company to sell 110v60hz equipment in Europe, just because that's how they do it at home? Should they not sell cars that don't meet US safety regulations abroad? Etc.?
      • by sgt_doom (655561)
        "And as a publicly traded company, Cisco has an obligation to make as much money as they can for their shareholders."

        Oh...give it a rest already, David Brooks clown clone. That's the same exact argument members of Hitler's Third Reich gave for their humans-into-ovens mandate. No corporation is obligated to support dictators and totalitarian governments, whether in th USA or in China, etc.

        • by swalve (1980968)
          Nor are they obligated NOT to, unless they specifically are. Would it be unsavory? Sure. But I think the spin here is that communications is the great equalizer, and even if the Commies try to stop everything, some stuff will get through.

          Anyway, if the Commies were really intent on maintaining the purity of the minds of their subjects, they'd just get the bolt cutters and snip the cables leading out of the country. No, they simply want to smack down dissidents. And the chinese can do that any number
    • by hedwards (940851)

      That's perfectly legal and not at all dodgy, however providing the technology for an oppressive regime to spy on its citizens is definitely dodgy by any reasonable standard.

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        technology tends to be agnostic. P2P and photocopiers aren't illegal, but using them to spread classified material is.

        Cameras are just that, cameras. They can be used to oppress dissent, help catch criminals, manage traffic, create an atmosphere of fear, monitor air quality and any number of other things. Some of that is good, some of that bad.

        If technology is going to be used for something illegal, unethical or the like it should fall to governments to ban its import and export. China has a perfectly le

        • by hedwards (940851)

          Except that they were allegedly selling the equipment specifically for the purpose of spying on the citizens. I take it you haven't been following the lawsuit that was filed against them. This isn't a case of providing equipment that's later modified for nefarious purposes, this is a case where they've been sued for allegedly providing materials specifically too spy on political dissidents.

          It remains to be seen how strong the case is and whether they'll be found liable, but it's hardly a matter of providing

          • by swalve (1980968)
            Well, duh. All commercial networking gear has that ability. It wouldn't be any good for anything if it didn't have that capability.
      • by Osgeld (1900440)

        so cameras that spy on US citizens is ok, but cameras that spy on china citizens is dodgy...

        thanks for clearing that double standard up

        • by hedwards (940851)

          It's hardly a double standard considering the scale of the human rights abuses in China versus the US.

          I know it's cool to hate the US, but seriously grow up, the comparison you're trying to make beggars belief. It's astonishing to me that you don't see the difference between a country that regularly locks up political dissidents and a country which by and large doesn't do so. As bad as things have been in the US lately we still aren't anywhere near the level of human rights violations of China.

        • On one hand, we have cameras located in public areas that help enforce laws enacted by a democratically elected government representing the will of the people.

          On the other hand, we have networking equipment that is used to censor private Internet connections, and in particular to directly and explicitly suppress political speech and reports of abuse by an authoritarian government.

          Yeah, it's totally the same thing.

  • cisco (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @01:34PM (#36663218)

    The human oppression network

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I love how people are bitching about Cisco on this deal all while using their Apple products assembled in China, wearing their name brand clothing made in China, and sitting comfortably in their chair made in China.

    If you want Cisco to be so idealistic, why don't some of you people do the same and boycott products made in China too? Yeah, didn't think so.

    I just pwned you all.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Probably because it's nearly impossible to find goods that are completely without ties to China. Thanks to the labeling requirements, you can think you're buying American and really be paying for most of the work to be done in some undisclosed nation.

      • by swalve (1980968)
        Undisclosed nation, perhaps. But not China. They have a requirement that everything made there must be identified as such.
    • by rezalas (1227518)
      I agree on all points, except my chair, which is custom made by my brother who also built my desk. Other than that I'm really just being an asshole, so please continue.
  • just more American/Western hypocrisy from Slashdot. Typical. The British have done the same thing in their cities, and it's not like America is totally averse to the idea (red light cameras, anyone?) Clearly, it's evil and oppressive just because China does it and China refuses to knuckle under to Western imperialism.
    • by idontgno (624372)

      If you're laboring under the impression that the criticism is "China is doing it, BAAAAD... The West is doing, it, YAAAY!"... you haven't been paying attention.

      China refuses to knuckle under to Western imperialism.

      Oh. That's interesting. I didn't notice until just now that you were using the Troll Safeword of the Day. <wink> Right. Carry on.

      • by Nadaka (224565)

        Correct. When china does it, we speak out and sigh, ultimately knowing we don't have the right to force China to respect its people and their rights. When our own country does it we speak out and anguish in despair, ultimately knowing that we don't have the force to right our nation to respect its people and our rights.

    • by swb (14022)

      So do you work for the Chinese Propaganda Ministry in its Countering Anti-Chinese Rhetoric in Western Blogs department, or do you just freelance for fun?

      What part of the arrest and detention of Ai Weiwei was the result of Western Imperialism or the defense of China?

      No, the subject is not off-topic, as the problem with Chinese use of surveillance technology isn't the surveillance per se (although it is a problem in the West and in China), it's the use of that technology to buttress a ONE PARTY STATE that act

    • red light cameras, anyone

      I haven't heard of red light cameras being used to suppress freedom of speech or intimidate dissenters. That sounds like a fairly novel and creative application - can you share the specifics? Some examples?

      Clearly, it's evil and oppressive just because China does it

      No, it's evil and oppressive because it targets fundamental human rights such as freedom of speech. It's equally evil and oppressive when other countries - be it Russia, Turkey, UK or US - do it. It just happens that China tends to do much more of that.

  • Sounds like they are catching up with the rest of the developed world. London is probably the most famous for its network of surveillance cameras but most major cities are installing these things as fast as they can fund them in spite of the lack of evidence that they do anything to deter crime or capture criminals. I think the desire to keep track of people is a universal government proclivity.
    • by bjdevil66 (583941)

      That's the weirdest part is that there's clear proof that cameras do not deter crime [aclunc.org] or help solve it [singularityhub.com]. The only other reasons a governmental unit would put them up is control by fear or if there was a lot of dirty money changing hands - neither of which is a good thing.

      Why do people tolerate it? Are they just uninformed? Willfully ignorant? Afraid of the boogeyman? What?

      • Why do people tolerate it? Are they just uninformed? Willfully ignorant? Afraid of the boogeyman? What?

        I think the correct answer is all of the above. There are those who don't know, those who think it won't ever capture them, and those who want a be all end all security product. This is the same reasons we get crappy laws like the PATRIOT ACT and a nice TSA grope or irradiation when we want to fly.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @01:50PM (#36663446) Journal
    Cisco IS a chinese company. Their top ppl are Americans, but all of the manufacturing is done in CHina. So, this is just China spying on Chinese.
    • Cisco IS a chinese company. Their top ppl are Americans, but all of the manufacturing is done in CHina. So, this is just China spying on Chinese.

      Like Apple and most other technology companies, Cisco's manufacturing is out-sourced. They don't own any manufacturing facilities of their own.

      Your last sentence is correct despite that.

      • "They don't own any manufacturing facilities of their own."

        And whose money do you think paid for all those foreign factories, production facilities, R&D labs, training centers, call centers, etc., which those jobs are either offshored to, or created anew at? That would be USAID, US foreign aid from various sources, presided over by the Wall Streeters who once bounced back and forth between the Street and government positions, but now USAID, like so much of the former US gov't, has been privatized (90

  • In some cases they can help finding who was responsible, but that is it. Criminals are generally stupid and are not deterred by an increased risk of getting caught. Consequentially, cameras are not a crime prevention measure, even though vendors falsely like to claim this. It is just the usual marketing lies taking something that seems obvious (but is false) to promote a product.

    On the other hand, cameras do serve to make people feel spied on, so they do serve the obvious goal of reducing political oppositi

    • They would probably also help in building concentration camps if enough money was in it.

      IBM is always ahead of the competition...

      http://www.ibmandtheholocaust.com/ [ibmandtheholocaust.com]

    • Criminals are generally stupid and are not deterred by an increased risk of getting caught.

      Right. That must be why so many robberies are committed right in front of policemen.

      • by sgt_doom (655561)
        Doesn't it truly strike you as ludicrous, when so many Ameritards repeat that tiresome phrase about criminals being so stupid? Especially since the bank/oil cartel gets away with virtually everything? I mean, since when did anyone from JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, BankofAmerica, Citigroup, Blackstone Group, Fortress, Citadel Management, AIG, Carlyle Group, etc., etc., go to jail? After the S&L meltdown, over 1,000 banksters were convicted and many went to jail. Criminals appear to
        • by gweihir (88907)

          Ah, my comment was limited to crime where cameras are believed to make a difference. Of course corporate crime is something else entirely. These people are amoral, greedy scum, but typically highly capable.

  • I think surveillance isn't bad, so long as it is public and open.

    http://www.brainonfire.net/blog/surveillance-for-the-public/ [brainonfire.net] - only result I could find quick google.

    I like to think of open surveillance as "big family", as opposed to "big brother".

    Can't find any studies or implementations at this moment, but I like to imagine it would work. Still, it feels like this idea is ripe for hole-shooting-into.

    • > Can't find any studies or implementations at this moment...

      Of course not. Knowledge is not power. Secret knowledge is power.

      • Thank you. I always despise people who mindlessly repeat something without ever giving it some critical analysis first. If knowledge were power, then scientists and geniuses would be meeting at the Bilderberg, not just the bank/oil cartel boys (with their social information system lackey twits, of course).
        • Thank you. I always despise people who mindlessly repeat something without ever giving it some critical analysis first. If knowledge were power, then scientists and geniuses would be meeting at the Bilderberg, not just the bank/oil cartel boys (with their social information system lackey twits, of course).

          I'm not really interested in hopping into a perfectly good argument here but I feel compelled to note that "knowledge is power" doesn't actually specify the KIND of knowledge. Knowing how to get two atoms to combine in a particularly useful fashion may, depending on your goals, not get you the kind of power you desire. If you're looking to control a country knowledge of political opposition's activities would be far more useful. If you're looking to cause massive amounts of devastation then the former wo

  • by haruchai (17472) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @02:14PM (#36663702)

      Isn't Huawei up to the task of network surveillance or are the Chinese looking for more tech to steal?

  • They call them "citizens".
  • Since the equipment is manufactured in China, it isn't as if the government couldn't just have the factories supply them with as many gray market units as they need.

  • After I smash my Cisco (Lynksys) router to bits with a sledge hammer, what alternative should I get (that will run Tomato, please)?
  • Microsoft is getting into bed with Baidu to help provide sanitized English language search results.

    All that's left is for Larry Ellison to announce an Oracle-based organ harvesting solution for the Central Committee vivisectionists from the deck of his yacht.

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