A comment on a previous blog entry asked for a comment on the “Cisco/China Ruckus.” What that “ruckus” is: several bloggers and columnists have accused Cisco of selling equipment to the Chinese specifically designed to build their Internet censoring capability, their so-called “Golden Shield” project. I will copy directly from my learned and esteemed colleage, Terry Alberstein, head of PR for Cisco’s Asia/Pacific region, who sent the following to one of the bloggers:
“As one of the worlds leaders in Internet networking technology, Cisco Systems has played an important role in the growth of the Internet globally. Cisco has also played an important role in the development of the Internet in China. Today the Internet in China has over 100 million users, one of the largest Internet populations in the world, and continues to grow rapidly.
The networking hardware and software products that Cisco sells in China are exactly the same as we sell in every market in the world. And it is our users, not Cisco, that determine the applications that they deploy.
Beyond basic Internet protocol (IP)-based data, voice and video connectivity, Cisco’s products provide important network management functions, such as preventing unauthorized access to networks, helping to prevent and mitigate denial of service attacks, and protecting intellectual property. Cisco technologies also address important security functions such as blocking viruses from infecting a network, preventing hackers from stealing credit card numbers, protecting access to confidential medical information, helping Internet service providers administer billing, and allowing public libraries and parents to block young childrens access to particular websites.
Cisco is not in violation of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act. The act in question requires export licensing from the U.S. Department of Commerce for specifically designed policing equipment like shotguns, police helmets and handcuffs. Networking products from Cisco and our competitors are not covered by this legislation. A full list of these items can be found at the Department of Commerce link below: http://www.bxa.doc.gov/news/2003/ForeignPolicyReport/fprchap2_crimecontrol.html
Cisco Systems does not participate in the censorship of information by governments. Moreover, Cisco complies with U.S. Government regulations, which prohibit sale of our products to certain destinations; or to users who misuse our products or resell them to prohibited users.
Cisco does sell networking equipment to law enforcement agencies around the world, including in China, in compliance with U.S. Department of Commerce regulations. Our products offer benefits through the networking of computing devices that aid in the effectiveness and timeliness of law enforcement. We also sell our products to many public sector organizations like universities, municipal governments, utilities, etc. Additionally, the market for networking products in China is highly competitive – we have strong competition in that market from French, Japanese, Canadian, Korean and Chinese competitors.
With respect to service and training of our products, all Cisco customers globally have access to Cisco training and support. We provide service and support, either directly by Cisco or, in many cases, through systems integration partners for our equipment. However, these services do not entail the day to day management of networks. Our service and post-sales support is designed to replace faulty or defective products, and to provide training for the proper operation and configuration of network hardware.”
Hope that helps clarify the official Cisco position.