China Delays Online Filtering Software

Published Friday, July 03, 2009 -

It appears that the Chinese government is reconsidering the launch or it's Internet filtering software required for all new personal computers sold in the vast nation. It was to be updated continuously by government agencies who will censor internet content including online gambling. The delay was announced only hours before the deadline for activation.
Dubbed the 'Green Dam' the Chinese developed software is described as protection for its citizens from "unsuitable material" on the web. There have been various protests lodged against the implementation of the filtering software by international organizations and governments who call the Chinese government move to restrict internet freedom a violation of the rights of the Chinese people. Those who have reviewed the program say it also contains code to filter out material the government considers politically objectionable. Two U.S. trade officials have sent the Chinese officials a communication stating their concerns that the plan will create possible trade barriers. Industry groups warned that the software might cause security problems.

A Beijing research firm BDA China Ltd spokesperson speculated, "I think the cost of the move from trade friction and generally a public relations black eye was becoming pretty clear to the government." The postponement "gets them out of the scrutiny of the international media and business."

"They are using the word 'delay,' instead of saying they stopped the plan," a Chinese blogger said, adding, "I think that it's possible that at some point in the future the government could still enforce their policy and install software on personal computers that filters the information people are able to look at. So, I am calling this an intermediary victory."

With more than 298 million users China has the largest Internet population on the planet and it represents up to 80 percent of world computer production. Filtering of internet content is also the most extreme in China.

Industry leaders Hewlett-Packard Inc. and Dell Inc. declined to discuss their plans for the installation of the software which they say they are ready to implement, possibly they are waiting for a diplomatic settlement.

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