Eight Chinese pro-democracy activists who are residents of New York have sued Chinese search engine Baidu for violating the US constitution in a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court.
The activists say that Baidu helps the government censor political expression.The suit, which the plaintiff’s lawyer claims is the first-of-its-kind, also names the Chinese government as a defendant. Baidu and China have also been charged with violating New York State civil rights laws.
More than a year ago, Google redirected its users to its Hong Kong website after saying publicly that it will not censor search results in China.
The plaintiffs said in the lawsuit that the Chinese government and Baidu censored and banned their "writings, publications and coverage of pro-democracy events" from the search engine. They are seeking $16m in damages.
The plaintiffs’ lawyer said that the judgement will go against China by default if it chooses to be silent.
China’s ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said that the way the Chinese government manages the Internet is in accordance with the law accords with international norms and is a sovereign matter.
"According to international law, foreign courts have no jurisdiction," Yu said.