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NETWORKING EQUIPMENT VENDOR Cisco has been accused of helping the Chinese authorities snoop on, discriminate against and violently suppress the religious group Falun Gong.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has taken Cisco to task about this, and has filed a request to submit an amicus brief in a US District Court in California.
It asks the court to let the case "Doe vs Cisco Systems" go ahead, telling it that the firm has aided China's human rights abuses.
"China's record of human rights abuses against the Falun Gong is notorious, including detention, torture, forced conversions, and even deaths. These violations have been well-documented by the UN, the US State Department, and many others around the world, including documentation of China's use of sophisticated surveillance technologies to facilitate this repression," it said.
"The central claim in the case is that Cisco purposefully customised its general purpose router technology to allow the Chinese government to identify, track, and detain Falun Gong members."
The EFF alleges that Cisco was asked to customise its kit so that the Chinese authorities could pick up Falun Gong 'signatures' and enable the logging and monitoring of traffic patterns.
Its lawsuit alleges that Cisco knew about this customisation, knew that it would be used to repress the Falun Gong, and still marketed and supported the technologies "towards that purpose".
"In fact, the case arises in part from the publication several years ago of a presentation in which Cisco confirms that the Golden Shield is helpful to the Chinese government to 'Combat Falun Gong Evil Religion and Other Hostilities'," adds the EFF.
"It also alleges that these customisations were actually used to identify and detain the plaintiffs."
Cisco has declined our request to comment on the views of the EFF and its lawsuit. µ