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June 30, 2005


Jon Garfunkel

I would draw a line between censorship and surveillance.

A question about Microsoft-- had they not put in the democracy filter, they most surely would have been blocked. So for the moment, you can tunnel in some freedom guise through the MSN Spaces. If they were cut off, what other major blogging platform would have been accessible in the PRC?

As for Cisco: indeed, their flaunting of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act is disconcerting. But, technically speaking, surveillance (aka data mining) is the natural progression of software and databases. If not Cisco, then *anybody* can build software to tie together data. Certainly the direction we want to take it in this country is to also develop digital warrants, compliance checks, to prevent against the natural progression of data mining. But if they were building surveillance at the router level, maybe that's crossing the line we don't want crossed.

Hmm. I'm in over my head now. Let me summon Seth. Happy Independence Day.


This is funny--the people who really got screwed in this are the Chinese government. Yes, Cisco can do filtering, but they're not very good at it and the Chinese are, no doubt, discovering that they paid a *LOT* of money for shoddy systems.

To think that pressuring American companies to stop selling filtering products to China will help anything is, well, a waste of a thought.

Does anyone seriously think that the Chinese government will allow unfettered access to the Internet? Does anyone out there also think that the US has a monopoly on products that can produce Internet filtering and monitoring products? Has anyone heard of freely available applications--developed around around the world--that can do the same thing? A short list:

Ssl sniffer

All of the above tools could be used to accomplish the same thing (actually, with much better results given adequate resources, which I trust the Chinese government has), and no legislation could possibly deal with them.

I appreciate, respect, and even support the motivation, but this is a waste of time. Who cares if Cisco duped the Chinese government into buying their crap in trying to build the Great Firewall of China? What matters is that the Chinese government is trying to build it. What matters more (for us non-Chinese) is that governments around the world are remarkably consistent in saying and doing nothing about it.

Why not push for tools and applications that can help anonymize and protect people in China? To report on how China filters Internet access (no matter the vendor) is yawn-inspiring.

Christopher Fotos

You're doing awesome work, Rebecca, and of course Ethan Gutman.

And Travis, from where I sit, "China would screw its people anyway, possibly with products from other companies" is not a very appealing argument for complacency on this issue.

china foolish

As an ex-hi-tech-corporate manager, I'm wary of the call for corporations to rise up and do what the US government cannot do. Capitalism, by its very own nature, is profit-driving. My personal opinion is for the government to regulate what the capitalistic entities behave. It's hard to fathom what a Cisco field manager does in China represent Cisco's corporate view. It's also hard-pressed to ask the Cisco sales office to do value judgement between profit and human rights before making a sales pitch.

When dealing with the impossible Chinese government, compromise and manuveuring are necessary.

Of course, if Cisco's actions break any US law, that's a different matter.

Evil Pundit

Perhaps the US Government should pass an appropriate law.

After all, anything that strengthens the hold of the Chinese government over democratic people's movements is contrary to the long-term interests of the US.


So what should Cisco & the US do - back out and give the business to Huawei?

Huawei is the largest vendor in the Chinese telco market who makes Cisco knock-offs - complete with the same command lines, help screens, user manuals, etc ... Huawei is taking "Cisco Certified" to the next level.

I don't get the "blame America first" mindset here ... shouldn't we be more concerned with China breaking Int'l Laws and China's own human rights violations before we start bashing Cisco and asking for more US gov't laws?


IMHO, the Chinese didn't learn a damn thing after building their first "wall" - walls don't work.

B+ for Travis (would get an A+ - but too geeky). The best way the US can help is not with more laws upon US companies - it's helping people (like the Chinese) to protect themself from big guv'ment.

Used to rhyme with "disco"

I was a Cisco employee for the better part of a decade. Our building was pretty much right next to the corporate HQ building.

One of the things they used to do was put out the national flags for foreign visitors, and fly them alongside the US and Cisco flags. The first time I saw the PRC flag flying there, in '96, was rather a jaw-dropping experience. I and a co-worker (we were both veterans) were rather dismayed that Cisco would be doing business with a regime that had been responsible, not too many years previously, for Tiananmen Square.

Over the years, they have been doing more and more business with China; it's as if Cisco has forgotten they are an American company.

Now, I'm a hard-core capitalist, but I'm a patriot and freedom-lover first. Dealing with China -- enabling the oppressors -- struck me as wrong then and wrong now. I was not a high-level insider, just a "geek in the trenches," so I couldn't say what the higher-ups were thinking, but I know many of my former co-workers would agree with me that there is something not quite right with what was happening.

Of course, the message then as now was, "we're enabling free expression." Sorry, I don't buy it any more. Back then, a router was an idiot-box: packet in, packet out. But today, the theoretical (and actual) on-board capabilities of routers and switches (and their ability to work with other networking devices) are sufficient to be the stuff of nightmares.


Profiteering off of the horrors of tyranny are unacceptable, not even for a slightly higher stock price. Cisco has joined the forces of EVIL.

Cisco Forum and News CiscoHQ

Kinda torn on the issue. I can see the good points and the bad.

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