Baidu Wins Dismissal of U.S. Political Censorship Lawsuit

Baidu Inc., owner of China’s most popular search engine, won dismissal of a U.S. lawsuit by Chinese-Americans alleging the company censored articles on the pro-democracy movement in China.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan yesterday granted Baidu’s request to dismiss the case because the Beijing-based company hadn’t been properly served with the plaintiff’s claims under the applicable international convention.

Eight New York City residents sued Baidu and the People’s Republic of China in 2011, alleging the company, “in conjunction with and as an agent and enforcer of the People’s Republic of China, purposely designed its search engine algorithm to exclude” pro-democracy topics. They said Baidu and China violated free-speech provisions of U.S. and New York state law.

The judge stayed the dismissal for 30 days for the plaintiffs to ask him to approve another way to serve Baidu with the complaint. The judge also gave the plaintiffs 30 days to argue why the claims against China shouldn’t be dismissed for failure to serve. China has not made an appearance in the case.

Stephen Preziosi, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, didn’t immediately return a call to his office yesterday after regular business hours seeking comment on the ruling.

The case is Zhang v. Inc., 11-cv-3388, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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