China announced recently it would have all new computers in China pre-installed with a filter software, in a bid to “protect minors” from “unhealthy information” from the Internet. All computers produced or sold in China after July 1 would be installed with such software, said the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MITT). Check a round up of news about the Green Dam internet filter (and how conflicting the information is, depending if the source is Chinese or from abroad):
China said recently it would have all new computers in China pre-installed with a filter software, in a bid to protect minors from “unhealthy information” from the Internet.
All computers produced or sold in China after July 1 would be installed with such software, said the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MITT)
However, Chinese scholars challenged the ministry’s policy even though the government’s intention to keep minors away from porn and violent contents is sincere.
“I have the freedom to decide whether or not to install a locker to my home,” Dr. Ma Guangyuan with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said, “parent’s worry about their children’s porn-free environment is reasonable, but this is not an excuse for asking all new computers to be preloaded with the software because I can use it by myself.”
China yesterday defended a new requirement that personal computers sold in the country carry a software that filters online content, just hours after Microsoft said the rule raised issues of freedom of expression, privacy and security that “need to be properly addressed.”
The statement by the US software giant came after a US computer industry association denounced the Chinese move and leading US personal computer makers said they were studying its ramifications.
Foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang (??) defended Beijing’s administration of the Internet, saying it was in accordance with the law and that the software “is aimed at blocking and filtering some unhealthy content, including pornography and violence.”
And from BBC:
Critics have complained that [the new screening software] could also be used to stop Chinese internet users searching for politically sensitive information.
But Mr Qin, speaking at a regular press briefing, said China promoted the healthy development of the internet.
[…]The aim is to build a healthy and harmonious online environment that does not poison young people’s minds, according to the directive [issued July 1 by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology].
Notice Concerning Pre-installation of Green Web Access Filtering Software
Associated Work Units:
In order to create a green, healthy, and harmonious internet environment, to avoid exposing youth to the harmful effects of bad information, the Chinese Ministry of Information Industry, The Central Spiritual Civilization Office, and The Chinese Ministry of Commerce, in accordance with the requirements of “The Government Purchasing Law,” are using central funds to purchase rights to “Green Dam Flower Season Escort”(Henceforth “Green Dam”) … for one year along with associated services, which will be freely provided to the public. The software is for general use and testing. The software can effectively filter improper language and images and is prepared for use by computer factories.
In order to improve the government’s ability to deal with Web content of low moral character, and preserve the healthy development of children, the regulation and demands pertaining to the software are as follows:
- Computers produced and sold in China must have the latest version of “Green Dam” pre-installed, imported computers should have the latest version of the software installed prior to sale.
- The software should be installed on computer hard drives and available discs for subsequent restoration
- The providers of “Green Dam” have to provide support to computer manufacturers to facilitate installation
- Computer manufacturers must complete installation and testing prior to the end of June. As of July 1, all computers should have “Green Dam” pre-installed.
- Every month computer manufacturers and the provider of Green Dam should give MII data on monthly sales and the pre-installation of the software. By February 2010, an annual report should be submitted.
If pre-installation does not happen on time or reports aren’t made on time, given incorrectly, or not given at all, the MII will mandate another report or a correction within a limited time period.
From Global Times:
However, an anonymous source with a leading Chinese provider of network solutions doubted the feasibility of the requirement, as many local producers do not install any operating system on their products, to save money. Requiring the installation of the Green Dam means that they have to install an operating system now.
“A computer installed with Windows XP costs 500 to 600 yuan ($74 to $88) more than a bare one (one not installed with an operating system),” the source revealed. “Will the government cover the additional cost?”
The mandatory software is being questioned for its alleged violation of people’s privacy and their right of choice.
The move violates people’s right of choice and any government department should not issue such a mandatory regulation by administrative means, Yu Guoming, vice dean of the Renmin University School of Journalism, told the Global Times.
Such a restriction on people’s right to surf the Internet is wrong, as the Internet users who access websites featuring pornographic content are exempt from legal punishment, Yu said.
According to Ars Technica, Chinese Government seems to back off:
The Chinese government has decided to delay the implementation of its controversial client-side filtering software, Green Dam Youth Escort. The deadline for PC makers to preinstall or package the software was originally set for July 1, but it has now been pushed back to an unspecified date.
A representative from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) confirmed to Xinhua that the deadline had been moved at the request of some computer makers. As a result, the deadline of July 1 won’t be enforced for PC makers, though the ministry still plans to provide free downloads of Green Dam for schools and Internet cafes as of that date. “The ministry would also keep on soliciting opinions to perfect the preinstallation plan,” wrote Xinhua.
And yet, plans see to go ahead on schedule, according to The Guardian:
The official said it was only “a matter of time” until the software was installed.
The remarks – if they fully reflect official policy – will anger internet users, who mounted a vociferous campaign against the policy this week and hoped they had secured a victory against government censorship.
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced a delay in the implementation of the programme late on Tuesday, hours before it had been supposed to come into force.
Officials claim the technology will help to curb access to pornography, particularly by younger users.
Chinese developers of a controversial software to filter pornography may face legal action from the US makers of a similar Internet filter.
Solid Oak said it had “very solid evidence” to support copyright infringement against developers Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co and Dazheng Human Language Technology Co.
The California-based software maker has sent “cease and desist” letters to Hewlet-Packard and Dell to stop distributing computers containing the alleged copied software and said it was considering seeking an injunction in a US court.
The US software developer that claimed Green Dam-Youth Escort software infringed the copyright of their product is attempting to stop more computer manufacturers from using the software.
California-based Solid Oak sent “cease and desist” letters to other US personal computer manufacturers besides Dell and Hewlett Packard, which had already received letters on Tuesday, Jenna DiPasquale, head of Solid Oak PR and Marketing, told China Daily yesterday.
DiPasquale didn’t provide the names of the computer manufacturers. Dell and HP had already received “cease and desist” letters from the company, urging them to stop distributing computers containing the alleged copied software on Tuesday.
“Green Dam Youth Escort” is a new software program that China’s government requires to be installed on all new computers sold after 2009 July 1. This program allows parents, people, and the government block internet content on each computer. Of course, they say it is to protect children, but very few netizens believe this.
Celebrations that Beijing has bowed to global pressure and scrapped an order to use filtering software in all personal computers have turned out to be premature. On July 1, a Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) spokesman said that while Beijing had, on June 30, postponed the installation of the China-made Net-screening device, “the government will definitely carry on the directive on Green Dam.” While Green Dam allegedly targets only pornography, foreign and Chinese experts alike think its real purpose is to censor “subversive” material and to prevent the country’s 300 million Netizens from fomenting dissent on China’s growing information superhighways (CNN.com, June 30; InformationWeek.com, July 2). Also indicative of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) determination to combat Net-based anti-government activities are plans to convict leading dissident Liu Xiaobo on charges of “inciting subversion to the state and the socialist system.” Dr. Liu is an internationally known writer who was a key organizer of the Net-empowered Charter 08 Movement, which the CCP deems one of the most potent challenges to its authority since the mid-2000s. Beijing leaders also appear to have been taken aback by the so-called “Twitter Revolution” in Iran, where liberal activists have used the Internet and allied vehicles to broadcast their opposition to the controversial presidential polls held last month.