Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cisco Faces Human Rights Questions

by Craig Matsumoto from Light Reading (US: NY)

Cisco Systems Inc. is set to face some tricky questions about its activities in markets such as China and Saudi Arabia at its annual shareholders' meeting on November 15 ... Boston Common Asset Management LLC is asking Cisco for a report on how it could reduce the chances of its equipment being used to repress privacy or freedom of expression. Boston Common's proposals attracted support from 19% of voters at last year's meeting ... John C. Harrington, a principal at Harrington Investments Inc., will call on Cisco's board to create a Committee on Human Rights, monitoring the effects of Cisco's sales and policies worldwide at this week's shareholders' meeting. Cisco and other tech companies have argued that their efforts to spread Internet availability will, in the long run, only help the cause of freedom of expression. But Harrington says, "They said the best way to change Apartheid in South Africa was to modernize the economy and show them the way to democracy. Of course, just the opposite happened, because technology in South Africa strengthened the economy and strengthened the government."

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