China backtracks on filtering software


16 Jun 2009

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Appearing to react to public pressure, the Chinese Government has changed the terms of installation of internet filtering software from compulsory to optional.

The Green Dam Youth Escort software (pictured), developed by Jinhui Computer System Engineering, is designed to block pornographic content and certain politically sensitive content from internet users within China.

The Government has stated that this software must be packaged with all new computers sold in China from 1 July, but installation and use of Green Dam is optional, according to an announcement made today by the state-run media, as reported in the Guardian.

International organisation for freedom of the press Wikileaks claims to have analysed the software from a free download available online and reports that it contains three basic filters for text, images and URLs.

Through these filter obscenities and politically sensitive phrases, as well as images containing nudity, are blocked, but according to Wikileaks, there is evidence the software was not entirely developed by Jinhui, but rather “a number of these blacklists have been taken from the US-made filtering program CyberSitter”.

The site further reports that although it is possible to uninstall Green Dam, some log files still containing user activity are left behind on the system.

According to vnunet.com, Zhang Chenmin, general manager of Jinhui, denies that any code was copied from CyberSitter, telling The China Daily that the blacklists are similar because they contain well-known international pornographic websites.

By Marie Boran

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