Tech Advocates Urge China to Reconsider Filter Software
The Chinese government is being called on to reconsider its mandate that by July 1 all new computers include the "Green Dam" Internet filtering software.
In China, the term "green" is said to refer to Internet surfing safe from explicitly adult content.
The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology stated in a May 19 notice that the software, developed by the Jinhui Computer System Engineering Company, is for blocking pornography and is aimed at "preventing harmful information on the Internet from influencing and poisoning young people," Reuters reported.
U.S. technology advocate group The Information Technology Industry Council, along with the Software & Information Association, the Telecommunications Industry Association and TechAmerica, has since issued the following statement:
"[We] urge the Chinese government to reconsider implementing its new mandatory filtering software requirement and would welcome the opportunity for a meaningful dialogue. We believe there should be an open and healthy dialogue on how parental control software can be offered in the market in ways that ensure privacy, system reliability freedom of expression, the free flow of information, security and user choice."
PC manufacturers who accommodate the government's request could face charges of enabling censorship, while those who resist face sales losses and difficulties with factories inside China. The larger issue, which should rouse to action more than just computer makers, is one of privacy and consumers' rights.
The Jinhui Website was temporarily down, and Reuters reported that Jinhui founder Bryan Zhang said it had crashed due to a large amount of traffic.
According to Reuters, Zhang maintains that the software is purely to protect children from pornography, and that it is optional and can be turned off or uninstalled.
With the Chinese government already overseeing an Internet filtering system that in the past has blocked media sites such as Google, many don't believe the Green Dam software to be so benign, and still others suggest it could additionally cause system glitches, crashes or compromise the security of user information.
As of June 10, Retuers reports that the Chinese government is still standing by its regulation.