Hu Xingdou, professor of economics at the Beijing Institute of Technology, was surprised when he won his lawsuit against his ISP. The company – Beijing New Web Digital Information Technology Company – had pulled down his site in March after the academic had posted articles on controversial subjects like the environment and corruption, citing illegal content. He moved his site to another provider.
"I was surprised when I won,” he told the Guardian. “In the past, there have been people suing like me, but either the court did not take the case or they failed. This is the first successful case in China of a netizen or internet user suing their internet service provider."
"Some have said it is only an individual case which has met with an open-minded judge. But I don’t think so, though an open-minded judge may have played a part. Before the case started, it was widely reported by the media. The court must know clearly how significant the case is so the judgment must be a result decided after a group discussion. I consider it [a mark of] the progress of our legal system."
Even though he’s achieved a landmark decision, this isn’t the end of things. Next he’ll sue the authorities behind the closure decision, although he’s sure the case will be thrown out.
"Suing the company is a civil case, but suing the net supervisor is suing the government."
"It is a shame that the supervisor can currently define any information as illegal as there are not developed laws about this."
According to Hu, he won his case because the grounds were legal, not political. That will change when he takes on the government.
"The case does include political elements, for behind the company is the net supervisor from Suzhou. So we can see from this point that the court has courage and responsibility."
"Theoretically, every city net supervisor can monitor the whole nation’s websites."
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