Be Damned, Green Dam!
China announced today that it has indefinitely delayed its plans to force computer manufacturers to install the Green Dam Youth Escort Internet filtering software on new computers. After various international trade organizations and PC makers petitioned the government to reconsider, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology relented. As a result, the July 1 deadline for computer manufacturers won't be enforced, although the software will still be installed on PCs in Internet cafés and schools.
The Wall Street Journal excerpted the letter:
"[Green Dam] raises serious concerns for us and seems to run counter to China's important goal of becoming a vibrant and dynamic information-based society....The Green Dam mandate raises significant questions of security, privacy, system reliability, the free flow of information and user choice."Authorities claim the filters are needed to shield children from online violence and pornography, but analysts who have examined the software say it also contains code capable of filtering out political material deemed objectionable by the government.
While PC makers complained that they couldn't meet the deadline and that the software would potentially make its systems vulnerable, the move also received widespread backlash from the Chinese netizen population. The outcome is certainly a victory for free speech, but the ordeal is a sullen reminder that censorship remains an ominous tool of government control.