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Chinese search engine giant Baidu was hit with a 16 million dollar lawsuit in New York on Wednesday. Eight New York residents allege that the company has conspired with the Chinese government -- which is also named in the suit -- to censor pro-democracy speech. And they say that because Baidu provides its services in the U.S., it has violated their constitutional rights.
Eight New York residents are suing China's most popular search engine Baidu, and the Chinese government, for violating their U.S. constitutional rights. They say Baidu is working with the Chinese government to block their pro-democracy speech in the United States.
[Stephen Preziosi, Attorney]
"You can find Internet articles, you can find any type of multimedia coverage that my clients have of these pro-democracy events. Baidu.com suppresses, censors that, and it is an agent or an arm of the Chinese government. That is the conspiracy. That's a conspiracy to suppress First Amendment freedom of speech rights."
The Chinese regime is notorious for its online censorship. A large portion of this is directed at contents critical of its rule. In their complaint, the plaintiffs accuse Baidu of being an enforcer of the regime's anti-democracy policies, by proactively censoring its contents in the U.S.
[Zhang Yuhong, Plaintiff]
"Baidu is a company registered in the U.S. and should follow U.S. laws. But the Chinese government and Baidu have violated my right to free speech."
[Wang Tiancheng, Plaintiff]
"Although Baidu is across the ocean from here, it cannot do whatever it pleases. It cannot violate the rights and freedoms of citizens in another country."