Tuesday, April 1, 2014

More on Baidu's Victory Over the Those Who Would Deny It Its Right to Free Speech

Previous post on this topic: US Court Rules Baidu Enjoys Freedom of Speech, Baidu Bans Forums on “Freedom of Speech”

On March 27, 2014, Judge Jesse Furman of the US District Court in New York issued an opinion granting Baidu’s motion to dismiss the complaint against it by eight “New York residents who advocate for increased democracy in China.” The full opinion is available here - http://www.scribd.com/doc/214981183/Zhang-et-al-v-Baidu-Com-Inc-et-al.

The plaintiffs complained that Baidu:
censor[s] and block[s] from search engine results any article, publication, video, audio and any information in whatever format if its content deals with the Democracy movement in China or any of the following topics that are related to the Chinese Democracy Movement: The June 4th Movement, The Jasmine Revolution, The Jasmine Movement; The China Democracy Party National Committee and the Tiananmen Square Incident or movement.
Screenshots showing Baidu censoring search results for "China Jasmine Revolution"
and "Tiananmen Square Massacre" taken on March 31, 2014. Credit: Feichangdao.
The plaintiffs claimed that Baidu engaged in that censorship at the behest of the People’s Republic of China.
The judge stated in a footnote:
That Plaintiffs allege that Baidu exercises editorial judgment “in cooperation with and according to the policies and regulations of” China makes no difference to the analysis. Plaintiffs allege that Baidu “purposely designs its systems and search engines to exclude” specific content. Whether it does so at the behest, or in furtherance of the interests, of China does not bear on the nature or extent of Baidu’s First Amendment rights.
Andy Atkins-Krüger interviewing Baidu spokesperson Kaiser Kuo
Credit: Searchengineland, August 30, 2011.
The judge went on to say:
In short, Plaintiffs’ efforts to hold Baidu accountable in a court of law for its editorial  judgments about what political ideas to promote cannot be squared with the First Amendment. There is no irony in holding that Baidu’s alleged decision to disfavor speech concerning democracy is itself protected by the democratic ideal of free speech. As the Supreme Court has explained, “[t]he First Amendment does not guarantee that . . . concepts virtually sacred to our  Nation as a whole . . . will go unquestioned in the marketplace of ideas.” For that reason, 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. Indeed, “[i]f there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” Thus, the Court’s decision — that Baidu’s choice not to feature “pro-democracy political speech” is protected by the First Amendment — is itself “a reaffirmation of the principles of freedom and inclusiveness that [democracy] best reflects, and of the conviction that our toleration of criticism . . . is a sign and source of our strength.”

Translation: Xu Zhiyong's Statement in His Own Defense

 Source: https://chinadigitaltimes.net/chinese/694913.html China Digital Times: On April 10, 2023, Xu Zhiyong, a well-known human rights de...