A lawsuit has accused Cisco Systems of designing a surveillance system to help the Chinese government track and ultimately suppress members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement. Filed on Thursday in California on behalf of the religious group, the lawsuit alleges that Cisco supplied and helped maintain a surveillance system known as the “Golden Shield” that allowed the Chinese government to track and censor the group’s Internet activities. Cisco says there is “no basis” for the allegations in the lawsuit and it will be defended “vigorously”.
What’s the Big Idea?
The case raises wider questions about intended and unintended consequences of the use of surveillance technology. Interestingly, Falun Gong is described in the lawsuit as utilizing the Internet as its primary point of congregation for religious activities.