Tech NGO Helps to Corner Cisco in Human Rights Lawsuit

According to Tech Eye.net, Cisco got let off from another legal case last year when it was decided that “a tech company could not be held accountable when governments misuse general use products for nefarious purposes.” (Axel Schwenke / Flickr)
According to Tech Eye.net, Cisco got let off from another legal case last year when it was decided that “a tech company could not be held accountable when governments misuse general use products for nefarious purposes.” (Axel Schwenke / Flickr)

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have asked a U.S. court to allow Cisco to be sued for human rights abuses in its collaboration with the Chinese government to persecute practitioners of the meditation practice Falun Gong.

According to Tech Eye.net, Cisco got let off from another legal case last year when it was decided that “a tech company could not be held accountable when governments misuse general use products for nefarious purposes.”

But that hasn’t deterred EFF lawyers who claim to have evidence that Cisco purposefully customized general purpose routers to help the Chinese authorities identify, track, and ultimately imprison Falun Gong practitioners.

“China’s record of human rights abuses against the Falun Gong is notorious, including detention, torture, forced conversions, and even deaths,” said EFF on its website. “These violations have been well-documented by the U.N., the U.S. State Department, and many others around the world, including documentation of China’s use of sophisticated surveillance technologies to facilitate this repression.”

The EFF documents listed the following allegations to be brought to court, which they believe give a strong footing for the case to go forward:

  • A library of carefully analyzed patterns of Falun Gong Internet activity (or “signatures”) that enable the Chinese government to uniquely identify Falun Gong Internet users;
  • Several log/alert systems that provide the Chinese government with real time monitoring and notification based on Falun Gong Internet traffic patterns;
  • Applications for storing data profiles on individual Falun Gong practitioners for use during interrogation and “forced conversion” (i.e., torture);
  • Applications for storing and sharing videos of “efficient forced conversions” for purposes of training security officers on successful methods;
  • Applications for categorizing individual Falun Gong practitioners by their likely susceptibility to different methods of “forced conversion”;
  • Highly advanced video and image analyzers that Cisco marketed as the “only product capable of recognizing over 90% of Falun Gong pictorial information;” and
  • A nationwide video surveillance system, which enabled the Chinese government to identify and detain Falun Gong practitioners.
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