Luca De Biase
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Venerdì, 18 marzo 2005

What Cisco answers

I asked Cisco what they have to say about selling products that the Chinese government uses to block their people when they want to browse sites considered unbeneficial to Chinese political stability.

Here is what they answered:

Cisco has not specifically designed any products for the Chinese government, or for any regional market to block or filter content. The products Cisco sells in China are the same products it sells worldwide. Furthermore, Cisco does not supply any encryption source code or encryption design technology to the Chinese Government or any other government that would allow them to redesign or modify functionality of our products.

This means that this kind of product is usable for any purpose and that Cisco is not responsible for bad use of it.

It is right. It means that, as it happens with weapons, technology is a kind of product that could be embargoed. If we really think that freedom of expression is important, we could think about it.

Or we could think the other way around: let's sell so many things to the Chinese that their system will collapse. As George Soros won soviet Hungary by giving them so many copiers that free press emerged. Which is the right one?
4:36:39 PM    comment [];

Cisco and the Chinese firewall...

I know it's an old story. But I discovered it yesterday. And it still seems to me good to discuss... I appears that the Chinese filtering of the Web is done with the help of some American companies, and Cisco is between them. Citizenlab has done a quite fair investigation about the issue.

But China now has domesic technology firms that develop technology so that they no longer need to rely solely on foreign technology. Chinese forms have developed routers and switches that are capable of content filtering. Domestic firms have been charged with copying Cisco[base ']s routers and switches.

Still, foreign companies do continue to sell China technology that is used for filtering and surveillance. It is indeed a problem, I[base ']m not suggesing that it isn[base ']t. The sale of filtering and surveillance technology to repressive regimes is a serious concern. We need to demystify both the technology and what is going on here.

It is a matter of economic value and of ethical importance. Americans don't want Europeans to sell weapons to China. But they sell firewalls that affect Chinese people ability to express and to find information. It's interesting. Even if it will not make such a big noise...
11:02:34 AM    comment [];

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