Cisco Needs To Step Up To Reduce Net Censorship, Says Net Freedom Advocate

I recently finished writing a story on Net censorship in Saudi Arabia, as part of a larger package on Cisco’s ambitions in the world’s emerging markets. Throughout the process, my editor Peter Elstrom and I struggled with how to explain the link, if any, between what Cisco sells and what the Saudi Arabian government does. Cisco has always maintained that it just sells the routers—that what each customer chooses to do with them is their own business. I have a hard time with this explanation, if only because Cisco’s strategy in emerging markets is all about selling the e-services that make those routers useful. For example, it has designed a massive 250,000-camera surveillance system that will likely be deployed in the vast King Abdullah Economic City that is now under construction in Saudi Arabia. If Cisco readily admits that it’s helping build a system that could enable surveillance of anti-government activists, would a Cisco salesman really refuse to give any pointers to a government customer that wants to censor?

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