Robert Weber, general counsel for IBM (NYSE: IBM), made quite clear what his opinion is about a lawsuit that claims Big Blue was complicit in the National Security Agency snooping program known as “Prism.”
Weber issued a formal statement on Friday that was published on IBM’s website.
He called the suit “baseless” and as “pushing a wild conspiracy theory.”
Weber also said IBM would “vigorously fight” the suit.
The full statement follows:
“[On Thursday] IBM learned of a lawsuit pushing a wild conspiracy theory. This lawsuit seeks to confuse IBM’s support for a U.S. cybersecurity legislative proposal — which has yet to be enacted — with the completely unrelated NSA surveillance program called PRISM. Even a cursory reading of the legislative proposal, known as CISPA, makes clear that it has nothing to do with the recently disclosed NSA surveillance program. The legislation is designed to help protect companies from cyber attacks by encouraging the sharing of technical cyber threat information, such as malware code. The ability for those under attack to work together to help prevent cybercrime is a modern business requirement and an important goal, which is why many companies, including IBM, support such legislation. This bill does not refer to China, and it does not authorize government surveillance, facts that the plaintiff and its attorneys could have easily determined had they bothered to do the slightest fact checking.
“Starting from this fictitious connection between CISPA and PRISM, the complaint proceeds to make numerous specious and false accusations, and IBM calls upon the law firm that filed this action to do the right thing and dismiss this action immediately. To fail to do so is a profound disservice to the judicial system, to the public, and in this case, to IBM.
“IBM will vigorously fight this baseless lawsuit.”
Timeline on the Suit
The Louisiana Sheriffs’ Pension and Relief Fund, in a complaint filed Thursday in Manhattan federal court, accused IBM of defrauding investors by concealing the sales decline after Edward Snowden leaked information that the company was cooperating with the NSA.
IBM lobbied in favor of a bill that would allow it to share customers’ personal data, including data from customers in China, with the NSA, according to the complaint. In June, documents released by Snowden disclosed the NSA’s “Prism” surveillance program, which used information from technology companies such as IBM, the pension fund said.
“The company knew but misrepresented or concealed from investors that the disclosures of its lobbying and its association with the Prism and NSA spying scandal caused businesses in China as well as the Chinese government to abruptly halt doing business with IBM, leading to an immediate, and precipitous decline in sales,” the pension fund said in its complaint.
On Oct. 16, IBM,reported a 22 percent drop in sales in China compared with the previous quarter as a result of the Snowden disclosures, according to the Louisiana fund, which said it pays retirement, death and disability benefits to more than 20,000 active and retired employees of sheriff’s offices throughout the state.
On Thursday, IBM responded with a statement from a media spokesperson.
“These allegations are ludicrous and irresponsible, and IBM will vigorously defend itself in court,” Clint Roswell, a spokesman for the Armonk, New York-based company, said in an e- mail.
The pension fund is seeking to represent a class of investors who bought IBM stock from June 25 to Oct. 16.
The case is Louisiana Sheriffs’ Pension & Relief Fund v. International Business Machines Corp., 13-cv-08818, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
IBM employs just under 10,000 people in North Carolina.
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