China Postpones Green Dam Internet Filtering Software Requirement

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The Chinese government has announced it is postponing a requirement that all PC makers begin shipping new PCs with the Green Dam Internet filtering software by July 1. According to the official state news agency Xinhua, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology will “delay the mandatory installation of the “Green Dam-Youth Escort” filtering software on new computers.” No new deadline was given for PC makers to comply with the order.

According to Xinhua, the delay is intended to give computer makers enough time to manage the “massive installation.” So far, only Sony appeared to be ready to roll with putting Green Dam on computers bound for China. The ministry will continue to offer the software to Chinese computer users as a free download, and will continue soliciting opinions on how to “perfect the pre-installation plan.”

China’s backpedalling on the eve of the requirement going into effect is largely being seen as a way for the regime to sidestep the controversy surrounding the software requirement, which it sprung on the industry at the beginning of June. The Green Dam software is ostensibly supposed to block violent and pornographic content and provide parental controls for computers, but has also been found to block politically sensitive content. The software has been almost universally criticized for not only posing a security risk to Chinese computer users—since any flaw in the required software would be exploitable en masse by scammers and malware—but also for effectively imposing per-computer censorship on every PC sold in China.

China operates the most extensive online censorship and filtering operation on the planet in an attempt to control and regular what information and content Chinese citizens may access over the Internet.