Cisco Sued by Religious Group Falun Gong, Accused of Facilitating Chinese Spying
Consumer electronics giant Cisco is facing down a lawsuit brought by 11 members of the Chinese religious group Falun Gong which claim that the company was complicit in the Chinese crackdown on the religion. Founded in 1992, Falun Gong grew to massive popularity in China until it was outlawed by the government in 1999. Since then, members of the group have reportedly been the victims of numerous human rights abuses.
The suit claims that Cisco competed forcefully for a contract with the Chinese government, knowing full well that their surveillance technology “Policenet” would be used to monitor and repress Falun Gong online activities. Falun Gong claims that as a result of Cisco’s successful contract bid, over 5,000 members of their religion were arrested, possibly tortured or killed.
Cisco has stated that they are not at fault, and will fight the suit “vigorously” in American courts. A Cisco representative has stated that the company operates no networks in China and followed U.S. export policies for technology and did not customize the Policenet system — which Falun Gong refers to as “Golden Shield” — in any way for use by the Chinese government. The suit was filed in San Jose, California, and there is no word as to when it is expected to go to trial.