$17M Lawsuit Filed Against Baidu for Censorship

The news recently surfaced that group of eight Chinese writers in New York filed a lawsuit in May against Baidu for complying with government policies to censor their writing, Bloomberg reports. They claim that the search engine banned their writings supporting democracy in the country and violated specific human rights laws. Last Wednesday, the plaintiffs filed papers with the Manhattan U.S. District Court accusing the defendant of "failing to accept legal papers when they were served." In retribution, the group asked a U.S. federal judge for a $17.44 million default judgment.

Many believe that ultimately, the case will not be successful. Legal experts note that an American court does not have the jurisdiction over the Chinese government, and that Baidu would unlikely be held accountable for implementing the government's censorship policies. Even Stephen Preziosi, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, admitted, "We have taken step one. The clerk recognized that Baidu and China have defaulted. Only a judge can declare them in default, and we have a very long road before that." However, Preziosi notes that perhaps this is what Baidu, who has not responded to the allegations, is using to defend itself against these claims of censorship. In an interview, he said that the Ministry of Justice in China responded to the filing at the U.S. District Court, saying that serving these legal papers would infringe on the sovereignty of China. In light of this, Preziosi accused the government of "making this blanket argument that Baidu.com can enjoy the protection of sovereignty."