Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cisco accused of building a Great Chinese Firewall

In a 2002 Cisco (China) PowerPoint presentation entitled “An Overview of [China's] Public Security Industry”, a Cisco (China) official in the Government Business Department listed the “Golden Shield Project” – the host project of China’s Great Firewall – as one of Cisco's major target customers. In this document, which apparently lays out the marketing strategy for Cisco (China) to sell products to the Chinese security police, one of the main objectives of the Golden Shield was to “combat the ‘Falun Gong’ evil cult” – parroting the rhetoric of the Chinese authorities used to persecute Falun Gong.

In the presentation page headed "Cisco Opportunities [in the Golden Shield Project]," Cisco offers much more than just routers; it offers planning, construction, technical training, and operations maintenance for the Golden Shield. Global Internet Freedom Consortium research shows that the infrastructure of China’s Great Firewall coincides with the layouts in Cisco (China)’s PowerPoint document.

One of Golden Shield's stated goals in the Cisco presentation was to "combat 'Falun Gong' evil religion and other hostiles," -- a statement that was attributed to Runsen Li, the Chinese government information technology chief in charge of developing the project.

Shiyu Zhou, deputy director of the Global Internet Freedom Consortium said Cisco could be offering, "censorship training" to Chinese authorities. A 2002 internal company document lists China's "Golden Shield" censorship project as one of Cisco's "major target customers," Zhou told the Senate human rights subcommittee.

Mark Chandler, Cisco's senior vice president of legal services, said during the Tuesday Senate hearing that he was "appalled" and "disappointed" when he saw that quote in the presentation.

"Cisco is the largest producer of networking equipment and sells the same products worldwide. It does not customize the equipment to help repressive governments censor the Internet", General counsel Mark Chandler said at a Senate hearing Tuesday. "The company's routers and switches have basic security features that protect networks from viruses and service interruptions", he said.

That part of the document was a quote from an official Chinese government statement condemning "hostile elements," Chandler said. The presentation was done by a Chinese engineer working for Cisco.

"We regret that the engineer included that in the presentation, even by way of explaining the Chinese government's goals," Chandler said. "We disavow the implication that this reflects in any way Cisco's views or objectives."

"It is very regrettable that one of our engineers quoted directly from Mr. Runsen Li, the Chinese government's head of IT for the Golden Shield project in this internal presentation," said Terry Alberstein, a senior director of corporate communications at Cisco. "They do not represent Cisco's views, principles or its sales and marketing strategy or approach. They were merely inserted in that presentation to capture the goals of the Chinese government in that specific project, which was one of many discussed in that 2002 presentation."

About Global Internet Freedom Consortium:

Global Internet Freedom Consortium is the largest and longest anti-censorship operation in the world.
The Consortium has run the world’s largest anti-censorship operation since 2000. Our five existing tools – UltraSurf, DynaWeb FreeGate, Garden, GPass, and FirePhoenix — currently accommodate an estimated 95% of the total anti-censorship traffic in closed societies around the world, and are used DAILY by millions of users. As of January 2008, the Top Five censoring countries with the most average daily hits to our anti-censorship systems are (hits per day):
(a) China: 194.4 million
(b) Iran: 74.8 million
(c) Saudi Arabia: 8.4 million
(d) UAE: 8 million
(e) Syria: 2.8 million
They say that "The Great Firewall will be taken down as the Berlin Wall."

About Cisco:

Cisco is a multinational corporation with more than 63,000 employees and annual revenue of US$35 billion as of 2007. Headquartered in San Jose, California, it designs and sells networking and communications technology and services under five brands, namely Cisco, Linksys, WebEx, IronPort, and Scientific Atlanta.

Reports on Chinese Firewall:
The internal Cisco PDF
Battle for Freedom in Chinese Cyberspace
New Technologies Battle and Defeat Internet Censorship, 2007-11-21

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