US court dismisses Baidu lawsuit

By Xu Tianran Source:Global Times Published: 2013-3-26 19:05:00

A lawsuit brought in the US against Baidu Inc, China's largest search engine, by eight Chinese Americans who claimed the company and the Chinese government should be punished for censoring online articles, has been dismissed.

US District Judge Jesse Furman in New York City said on Monday the dismissal was proper because the defendants had not been properly served with court papers, and China had cited an international treaty in claiming that service would infringe on its sovereignty, Reuters reported.

Kaiser Kuo, director of international communications for Baidu, confirmed the dismissal to the Global Times but declined to make any comment on it.

Eight New York City residents alleged Baidu and China violated free-speech provisions of US and New York state laws. 

Bloomberg reported that the eight Americans sued Baidu and China in 2011 and accused the company of "purposely designing its search engine to exclude pro-democracy topics in conjunction with and as an agent and enforcer of the People's Republic of China."

Internet service providers on the Chinese mainland, especially search engines and social network platforms, screen online content according to relevant laws.

Some popular foreign websites are also blocked on the mainland.

Some Chinese Internet industry insiders see the lawsuit as ridiculous. 

"For any Internet service provider to survive, it must abide by local laws and regulations. Baidu screened search results according to Chinese laws and it should not be punished for that by US domestic laws," Li Yi, secretary-general of the China Mobile Internet Industry Alliance, told the Global Times.

China did not make a formal appearance in the litigation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had yet to comment on the case as of Tuesday. The ministry did not reply to questions sent by the Global Times via facsimile.

But on May 19, 2011, foreign ministry spokesman Jiang Yu dismissed the lawsuit, saying China's legal management of the Internet is in line with international practice and is a sovereign act, adding that foreign courts have no jurisdiction according to international laws.

The plaintiffs said their content could be found through other search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft's Bing, and Google's video-sharing service YouTube, and that the suppression on Baidu justified millions of dollars in damages, according to Reuters.

But Furman said there was "plainly no merit" to the idea that the defendants were properly served. Furman put the dismissal on hold for 30 days to allow the plaintiffs a chance to propose another means of serving Baidu, and show why China should not be dismissed as a defendant, Reuters reported.


Posted in: Society, Americas

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