back to article Cisco accused of tailoring tech to aid Chinese abuses

A group accusing Cisco Systems of helping the Chinese government commit human rights abuses against Falun Gong members said it has presented new evidence that the networking giant customized its technology to spy on people tied to the outlawed religious organization. The evidence, contained in an amended complaint filed Friday …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Same equipment

    It's probably the same equipment that the NSA uses to spy on all the Americans. The things in the Powerpoint presentation are probably only the tip of the iceburg of what the things do without a second thought in "free" countries

  2. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    One wonders what Cisco's marketing pitch would have been in the 1940s

    "Herr Reichsmarshal! We can detect 90% of Hebrew images and web content!!"

    Well, at least Cisco spared us the "Don't be evil" hypocrisy. They are pretty straightforward about what they are willing to do to make a buck.

    1. My Alter Ego

      Wrong company

      You're thinking of IBM, being the sole distributor of punch cards really did help detect any hebrew content. It also helped the trains run on time.

  3. dssf

    If one can ALLOW, can't one DENY?

    Cisco sells some of the most sophisticated equipment of this type in the world. What do they mean they don't customize. Isn't that BS? Patches are always in play, and heavy customers buying LOTS of gear can lean on a company. I bet China buys more gear than most of the US purchases do, and if that is so, you can bet your ass that cisco is lying and to some extent doing or SHOWING the various customers in-house and at cisco sites how to perform their own pre-deployment customizations so that cisco's hands can remain "clean". Doing or teaching how, it's still the net effect. If one were to get a warrant for cisco's travel expenses and related expenses, it might offer an interesting picture.

    Well, that is if there is no misdirection involved in how the travel arrangements are set up to obfuscate travel destinations regarding visiting or receiving sensitive clients.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      travel destinations?

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Cisco owns WebEX, which is the anti-travel company.

      In reality, and IDS product could be modified to perform this action.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      A difference...

      There is a difference between the generic Cisco routers being able to filter content - generally disabled by default, but the owner of the router can configure it to block or filter content - and the router being specifically re-programmed by Cisco themselves to search for said Falun Gong content.

      It is the old argument, guns don't kill people, people kill people. In this case, the hardware doesn't specifically filter Falun Gong content, but it would enable an admin to configure it to do that...

      The only way Cisco could get around the criticism would be to develop special routers for dictatorships, which don't include all the standard features the rest of us "enjoy".

      Without knowing the context of the slide(s), it could be that an over zealous salesman in China sold up the point to the Chinese government, that they could configure the router to do the required task - typical salesman, but not very ethical...

      1. the future is back!


        While we debate the rational arguments around the marketing tactics used by the Cisco reps in China, the point remains the 5 or 20 Falun Gong folks who get hauled in and sent into the archipelago and black hole of Chinese detention by Cisco's efficiencies configured by a colonel in the People's Army, do they care if on a fine legal point Cisco is lawfully engaging in business ethically while maybe facilitating the arrests? It's wrong any way you look at it. You are waffling if in any way you can call this right.

  4. Chris 211

    blame the gun why dont you

    This is blame the gun not the shooter mentaility here. The authorities in China are the evil ones, applying filters, blocking freedoms. cisco just provides the capabilites. You dont blame the train builders for what the nazi's did, do you?

    1. Rob - Denmark


      If the train builders made trains that had features specifically designed to help the Nazis ship people to concentration camps (and had a power point boasting 'jew detecting features'), I probably would.

  5. Bernard M. Orwell

    The Price of Freedom

    The Price of Freedom is...

    .......about $3500 per unit, plus support contract and extended warantee.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Could be BS

    After all, you can detect over 90% of anything by flagging every message. It's the false positive rate that really counts, but I suppose we can't expect the journalistic world to know that and chances are Chinese buyers don't either.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    This is not evidence that Cisco customise their equipment, ...

    ... it is evidence only that they customise their marketing materials. I mean, does anyone seriously believe that Cisco has developed some magical AI software or hardware that specially recognizes "Falun Gong pictures"? Nonsense, what Cisco have is a completely generic inspector/classifier/filter, and all they're claiming is that it can recognize 90% of *whatever* pictures you train it to look for. Similarly with this database; it can detect and filter whatever you train it to detect and filter. The HRLF are idiots to try and place this transparently bogus interpretation on the marketing statements, and their idiocy (or perhaps deliberate dishonesty/spin) is liable to undermine what little case they already have.

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