Cisco denies aiding Chinese censorship

Cisco says it does not offer customized equipment or training to be used for censorship

Cisco this week denied allegations that it aided the Chinese government in its effort to censor the Internet.

The allegations are connected to a 2002 PowerPoint document written by a Cisco engineer that refers to suppression of the Falun Gong religious group and "other hostiles." Cisco said the internal document does not reflect the company's views, according to AP and Reuters reports.

"We disavow the implication that this reflects in any way Cisco's views or objectives," Cisco General Counsel Mark Chandler said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week, according to those reports.

The subcommittee heard testimony from Cisco, Google and Yahoo about how US companies do business with certain governments that censor and suppress the free speech of their citizens, the AP reported. The PowerPoint presentation, prepared by Cisco's Beijing office, listed a handful of goals of the Chinese government, including cracking down on the banned spiritual group Falun Gong.

The presentation was cited by an official with the human rights group Global Internet Freedom Consortium as evidence that Cisco had offered to teach Chinese authorities how to use its equipment to censor the Internet, according to Reuters.

"Cisco can no longer assure Congress that Cisco China had not been and is not now an accomplice in partnering with China's Internet repression," said Shiyu Zhou, deputy director of the group, according to the AP. "And, whether directly or indirectly, in the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners and other peaceful citizens in China."

Chandler said Cisco does not offer customized equipment or training to be used for censorship, according to the reports.

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Jim Duffy

Network World
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