July 25, 2005
As a global company, Cisco adheres to the laws and regulations of each country in which it operates. To talk more about how Cisco products are marketed and sold globally, News@Cisco sat down with Cisco's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Field Operations Rick Justice.
There have been reports that networking products are used by some governments to censor Internet content. Does Cisco's technology have functionality that enables users to block or monitor Internet content?
Rick Justice: 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 block young children's access to particular websites.
Does Cisco sell and market products to be used specifically for governments to censor Internet content?
Rick Justice: No. While a range of functions can be implemented on our products, it is the customer, not Cisco Systems, who determines how the capabilities will be specifically used. Cisco sells identical products worldwide. The products Cisco sells in countries such as the U.S., China, India, Pakistan and France are the same products that we sell in other countries.
Does Cisco sell products and services to law enforcement agencies?
Rick Justice: Yes, Cisco does sell to police agencies around the world, as our products offer valuable benefits that aid in the effectiveness and timeliness of law enforcement. For example, police officers patrolling communities can often spend a significant portion of their shift in a police station, partly because it's historically the only way to access police records and other computer-based information. This takes time away from their ability to be engaged with what's happening on the street. Mobile wireless technologies and associated networking infrastructures support applications and services that allow officers to be fully connected while in the field-literally from their patrol cars.
Cisco sells and supports much of its products through distributors/systems integrators. Do you monitor these licensed third parties for how they market/configure your products for customers?
Rick Justice: 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. Cisco 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.
What is your position on how some governments are using networking products to censor access to the Internet?
Rick Justice: Some countries have chosen, as a matter of national policy, to restrict or limit access to information on the Internet to its citizens. The router functionality that may be employed by such nations to restrict this access is the same functionality that libraries use to block sites in accordance with policies that they establish. Whereas this functionality can be used for many different purposes, Cisco has not specially designed or marketed products for any government, or any regional market, to censor Internet content from citizens. Cisco cannot determine what sovereign nations regulate and don't regulate in their own countries. Even within nations that have signed the United Nations Global Compact there is rich debate in the courts and in society, about access to the Internet, lines between commercial speech and political speech, and related issues. Cisco supports transparency in the way the Internet is used and complies with applicable regulations.