Amnesty Slams Cisco

The Amnesty campaign is continuing to raise awareness and debate about Internet censorship practices around the world. Part of the purpose of the campaign is to focus on western companies who provide technologies of censorship and surveillance. There is a ZDNet UK article about the topic, with some of my comments on the matter, and the same old responses from Cisco about how they just sell the technology, not determine how it is used. Whatever their level of support actually is, they cannot deny that they know how the technology is actually being deployed in China and elsewhere around the world.

It is interesting to see how you end up being represented in these stories. For the record, here is my exchange on the matter with the reporter:

ZDNET: Can you comment on Cisco’s involvement in China?
1. How do you know that the Chinese authorities use Cisco routing technology and hardware?

RD: I know that Chinese authorities use Cisco routing technology because Cisco themselves say that they do. Cisco does not deny that its technology is being used, as evidenced by the testimony to US Congress of Mark Chandler, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of CiscoSystems. You can read it yourself here:

ZDNET: 2. Does Cisco configure the routers for the Chinese, or actively help to block access to the Internet? Does Cisco supply any other kind of service to the authorities?

RD: In the same testimony as noted above, Mr. Chandler says:

“Cisco does not customize, or develop specialized or unique filtering
capabilities, in order to enable different regimes to block access to information…”

However, this is contradicted by the testimony of Ethan Gutman, which you can find here:

so it is a matter of making an educated guess. Some one is not telling the truth. My educated guess is that it would be unlikely for any company to have a major contract of this sort without supplying support for one of its primary service functions.

ZDNet:3. If Cisco supplies the hardware, is this detrimental to the local population, and why? Is Cisco aware of it being detrimental?

RD:I believe not only is it detrimental to the population of China, it is a violation of human rights, as outlined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. As to whether Cisco is aware of it being detrimental, you would have to ask them.