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. ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
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.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.