A federal lawsuit filed last Thursday against Cisco Systems claims the computer networking company helped design the controversial “Golden Shield” firewall used by the Chinese government to censor the internet and monitor dissidents, such as members of Falun Gong, a spiritual movement that is banned in China. Several Falun Gong members have been apprehended by Chinese officials, arrested, tortured, and at least one member was beaten to death. Another is missing and presumed dead.
The lawsuit was filed by The Human Rights Law Foundation on behalf of members of Falun Gong via the Alien Torts Statute, a federal law that permits foreign nationals to sue for violations of international law in the United States federal court. Charges have also been brought under the Torture Victim Protection Act. The 52-page suit contains a marketing slide revealing the goal of the Golden Shield to “douzheng” or persecute Falun Gong and other cults.
The company denied the allegations, stating, “Cisco does not operate networks in China or elsewhere, nor does Cisco customise our products in any way that would facilitate censorship or repression.”