Feeds

US democracy activists lose case against Baidu and China

Manhattan court is not the place to sue a country, says judge

Boost IT visibility and business value

Chinese search giant Baidu has seen off a $US16m legal challenge from a group of pro-democracy supporters in New York

The unusual lawsuit was filed in the US District Court in Manhattan back in 2011, with the plaintiffs alleging that Baidu effectively acted as an agent of the Chinese state to deliberately suppress their pro-democracy China-related content in searches conducted even outside the Great Firewall, in the States. That action, they alleged, violated the US Constitution.

The case was dismissed on Monday after US District Judge Jesse Furman said the defendants hadn’t been properly served with the papers, Reuters reported.

China is said to have invoked a Hague Convention which apparently allows a nation to refuse to be served if such papers could infringe its sovereignty.

Basically, it argued that a district court in Manhattan is the wrong place to serve a lawsuit against an entire country, and the judge has agreed.

Furman has now given the plaintiffs 30 days to find an acceptable way to serve Baidu, and to find a legally convincing argument why the case against China shouldn’t be dismissed.

The case is unlikely to have any impact on Baidu’s business as long as it remains focused on its domestic market - the firm has always been pretty consistent in complying with local laws (ie self-censoring) in China.

Google, of course, chose to take a stand three years ago by locating its search servers outside the Great Firewall in Hong Kong, which led to a degraded search experience for those inside China as sensitive terms were blocked at the border and service timeouts became commonplace.

Baidu already had a pretty big lead in the Chinese search engine market, but in hindsight this decision pretty much sealed Google’s fate there.

It now sits in fourth place with less than a 5 per cent share, while Baidu has over 70 per cent.

A Baidu spokesman told The Reg the firm had nothing to add except that it filed for dismissal after failing to be properly served the court papers. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
Felony charges? Harsh! Alleged Anon hackers plead guilty to misdemeanours
US judge questions harsh sentence sought by prosecutors
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.