Friday, March 28, 2014

US Court Rules Baidu Enjoys Freedom of Speech, Baidu Bans Forums on “Freedom of Speech”

According to a March 27 report by Reuters:
Chinese Internet company Baidu Inc on Thursday won the dismissal of a U.S. lawsuit by pro-democracy activists who complained that Baidu illegally suppressed political speech on China's most widely used Internet search engine.

Eight New York writers and video producers had accused Baidu of creating search engine algorithms, at the behest of China, to block users in the United States from viewing articles, videos and other information advocating greater democracy in China.
. . . .
U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan, however, concluded that the results produced by Baidu's search engine constituted protected free speech under the U.S. Constitution, warranting dismissal of the May 2011 lawsuit.

"The First Amendment protects Baidu's right to advocate for systems of government other than democracy (in China or elsewhere) just as surely as it protects plaintiffs' rights to advocate for democracy," the judge wrote.
Furman likened a search engine's "editorial judgment" to that of a newspaper editor who decides which stories to publish.
The case is Zhang et al v. Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-03388.

This screenshot, taken on March 27, shows that Baidu has banned users from establishing a PostBar (贴吧 Tieba) forum on the topic of “Freedom of Speech” (言论自由), and that a search for that phrase on Baidu’s Library (Wenku 文库) product yields no results.