China's Green Dam Internet Monitoring Not Compulsory
China has retreated from its plans of enforcing the controversial Green Dam/Youth Escort internet monitoring software on every computer sold in China. While individual consumers can be excused, internet cafes, schools, and other public places must use the so-called anti-pornography program.
In June, the Chinese government officially announced that all computers sold in China, including those imported ones, would have to have the Green Dam software installed by July 1. The announcement has stirred an outcry from Chinese Internet users as well as foreign computer manufactures.
University of Michigan security researchers found a series of flaws in the software which could have allowed a malicious hacker to take control of every computer which had the software installed. On 30 June, the government delayed its plans to roll out the software.
According to Li Yizhong, China's Industry and Information Technology Minister, the ministry order was "a misunderstanding spawned by poorly written regulations." Though the Green Dam is widely believed across the Chinese blogosphere to be another government's scheme to censor the the web, Li reiterated that the intention of Green Dam is to block "obscenity" from "poisoning the young."
"The government gets many supplications from parents shedding tears, saying 'save my children'," he added. "I think this is not only a call from parents, but also everyone else in society's common wish."
China has sought to increase government control over ordinary people’s use of computers in recent months. The government has systematically blocked ordinary citizens from viewing foreign-based websites like Facebook, Flickr and YouTube that sometimes include comment critical of the government. Domestic websites with political content also have increasingly been censored or blocked.
The series of Internet monitoring activities peaked at the time of the June 4th Anniversary, and it is interesting to see how it would develop as the October's 60th Anniversary of the founding of Communist China approaching.