Tort and Technology

Activists can use the US judicial system and the Alien Tort Claims Act to shame all sorts of multinational corporations from cooperating with authoritarian governments that violate international law. For example, a dozen Chinese citizens joined a suit against Cisco Systems, based in California, in 2012 for selling technology that allows the Chinese government to track dissenters online. “The issue is getting hotter as Sino-American internet business expands, in both directions,” warns the Economist. A US appeals court has ruled that another firm cannot be sued under the act – the US Supreme Court must decide the law’s limits. Proposed revisions include maintaining a list of restrictive states and requiring firms to seek approval “before passing user information to one of these regimes” and “search engines would have to reveal details of any content they are asked to block.” Another approach is self-regulation, like the Global Network Initiative, with human-rights groups teaming up with a few large web firms. Representatives suggest the companies would prefer legal clarity. – YaleGlobal

Tort and Technology

Activists, lawyers, legislators pressure globe-trotting firms with Alien Tort Claims Act to protect enforce international law – but that could end
Thursday, January 24, 2013
Copyright © The Economist Newspaper Limited 2013.

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