/// Shareholder Suit Accuses IBM of Concealing an Anti-Snowden Backlash in China

December 14, 2013  |  All Things Digital


Here’s a new twist on the whole NSA spying controversy that continues to unfold: Shareholder lawsuits against companies that suffer sales declines in international markets as suspicion of American tech companies grows overseas. A Louisiana pension fund sued IBM in a federal court in New York City this week, accusing Big Blue of hiding a decline in sales to China. The fund says the decline was the result of push-back by Chinese government agencies and businesses concerned about buying gear from American companies, and fears that they might be complicit in NSA spying. The Louisiana Sheriff’s Pension and Relief Fund names IBM, its CEO, Ginni Rometty, and outgoing CFO Mark Loughridge in the suit. In a 23-page filing (which you can read below), the fund argues that IBM lobbied on behalf of a proposed law that, in its words, “allows the company to share its customers’ personal data” with the NSA. The bill the pension fund’s lawyers are referring to is CISPA, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, and what it’s meant to do is give companies the legal framework they need to share information about cyber attacks and threats with the government, in order to help head off similar attacks on other companies. CISPA was controversial, and never passed. But in the minds of the pension fund’s lawyers, support for that bill essentially equals playing ball with the NSA and its spying programs. Get it? As the disclosures about PRISM and other NSA spying programs began to leak out, courtesy of the former contractor Edward Snowden, the pension fund argues that IBM knew it was likely to have a big problem on its hands when it came to China

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Shareholder Suit Accuses IBM of Concealing an Anti-Snowden Backlash in China


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