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December 17, 2013

IBM faced with lawsuit over NSA snooping programme

Alleged involvement almost halted its sales in China.

By CBR Staff Writer

IBM has been sued by one of its shareholders after allegedly failing to reveal its involvement in the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) mass surveillance programme.

An IBM share holder, Louisiana Sheriffs’ Pension & Relief Fund, has sued the tech firm’s CEO Virginia Rometty and CFO Mark Loughridge for assisting the agency to spy on the Chinese individuals, which abruptly halted its sales in China.

The shareholder also claimed that IBM had lobbied Congress to pass a law allowing it to share personal data of customers in China and elsewhere, in efforts to safeguard its intellectual property rights.

The lawsuit filed with the US District Court in Manhattan stated: "IBM was well-aware that its association with the U.S. spy programme and its sharing of customers’ information with the U.S. government would have immediate and adverse consequences on its business in China."

"IBM’s association with the NSA presented a material risk to the company’s sales," the lawsuit added.

"Upon the revelation of Prism (and related disclosures made by Edward Snowden), IBM knew that the government of China would not tolerate the company’s cooperation with the NSA, and would prohibit businesses and government agencies in China from purchasing IBM products."

Currently, the US spying agency has been under fire for implementing several controversial actions, including spying on the presidents of Mexico and Germany, developing malware that ruined over 50,000 PCs, breaking into Microsoft and Google’s networks, as well infiltrating online games.

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IBM senior vice president and general counsel Robert Weber said the complaint proceeds to make numerous specious and false accusations.

"To fail to do so is a profound disservice to the judicial system, to the public, and in this case, to IBM," Weber said.

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