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China Electronic Frontier Foundation Your Rights Online

EFF Takes On Cisco's Role In China 84

Posted by Soulskill
from the technolegal-quagmires dept.
decora writes "Several years ago, writer Du Daobin posted several essays on the internet, protesting such things as unfair taxes and the corruption of the media. He was then charged with 'inciting subversion of state power,' arrested, and after many legal twists and turns, tortured in prison. Daobin, along with several other dissidents with similar stories, decided to sue Cisco Systems (PDF) earlier this year under the legal theory that it aided and abetted China's violation of the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991. As the case moves forward, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security has stepped up its surveillance, harassment, and interrogation of Daobin and the others. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has now joined the Laogai Research Foundation to draw attention to the case. As part of its opening move, it has asked Cisco to make public statements in support of human rights, hoping that the company's influence with the Chinese government will provide some modicum of protection for the threatened dissidents."
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EFF Takes On Cisco's Role In China

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  • by jburroug (45317) <slashdot.acerbic@org> on Thursday August 25, 2011 @12:01PM (#37207444) Homepage Journal

    I applaud the EFF's efforts here but I seriously doubt this will make a difference on the ground in China, even if Cisco were to see the light and speak up on behalf the dissidents. I also think the EFF is mistaken about which way influence flows in the CCP-Cisco relationship. Like any Western company doing major business with China, Cisco has had to jump through all sorts of hoops, hand over a large amount control of local operations to party apparatchiks and work under contracts that change significantly and frequently after being signed.

    Cisco's position in China is so compromised at this point that I don't see how they could stand up to the CCP in this case without pulling out of the Chinese market entirely and I just don't mean stop selling in China. They have suppliers, production facilities, hundreds of directly employees not to mention billions of dollars of IP in China. All of that is vulnerable to CCP action if Cisco were to get on their bad side. China isn't like the West, the government won't need warrants or due process to arrest Cisco employers, seize facilities and IP or just choke off Cisco's supply train like they did with rare earths a few months ago.

    Cisco is in too deep to take a stand at this point, they have more to lose than the CCP does. The CCP has demonstrated repeatedly that human rights aren't a concern for them and given their hostile reaction whenever a Western government or NGO (Nobel Committee) explicitly or implicitly criticizes their human rights record they aren't exactly concerned about their international image either. Cisco on the other hand pretty much can't win this no matter what they do. Just like most any Western company doing big business in China these days.

    Cheers,

    Josh

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