Via Wired.com two days ago, an astonishing and apparently legit internal document from Cisco back in 2002, when it was preparing to sell the Chinese government the routers that were initially necessary to make the "Great Firewall" system of internet censorship work. (My Atlantic article on how the Firewall works here; also, followup interviews with Network World and TheAtlantic.com. For the record, the official name for the firewall and related systems is not the Great Firewall but the "Golden Shield" project.)
The "To Be Sure" section:
- Cisco has always claimed, and this document supports, that it didn't tailor any of its products particularly to the Chinese government's needs. Its normal product just happened to be what the government wanted;
- Whatever Cisco did or did not do six years ago, China no longer needs any outsider's help to make the system go. As I point out in my article, China's own companies, notably Huawei, can provide everything the government requires;
- There was never very much money involved. (According to Wired, $100,000 - could it really have been so little???);
- A Cisco official told Wired that he was "appalled" and "disappointed" at what the document showed.
Still: pages 48-58 of this PDF presentation seem to remove any doubt that Cisco knew, at the time, exactly what China had in mind with the "Golden Shield" program -- and viewed it as a great business opportunity.