China admits defeat in Green Dam row

Beijing, China – China has backed down on the deadline it imposed for PC makers to ship the controversial Green Dam Youth Escort web filtering software.

The official Chinese Xinhau news agency said that the July 1 deadline set for companies to ship a copy of the controversial package with all new PCs had been postponed indefinitely to give manufacturers more time to comply.

The lack of a firm date for the software to be shipped is a tacit admission of defeat for the Chinese government in the wake of widespread protests from civil rights groups and overseas news agencies who claimed the package, billed as protecting innocent young Chinese from the evils of pornography, was actually a thinly-veiled attempt to block foreign sites post off-message news stories.

The US government earlier said that Green Dam violated China’s obligations under World Trade Organization treaties. The software has also been shown to have significant security vulnerabilities and it is claimed that key elements of the package owed more than a little to other web filtering packages.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said today that the pre-installation requirement would be delayed because computer makers ‘wanted more time for such a massive undertaking’.

July 1 had been set as the deadline and some computer manufacturers including Sony and Acer have already agreed to comply. Sony today announced its intention to ship PCs with Green Dam, albeit accompanied with a disclaimer warning of the risks posed by the software.

The ministry said that it would continue to provide Green Dam as a free download for users who wanted it and would continue to install the software on school computers and those in public internet cafes. It insists that it will continue to work towards ‘perfecting the pre-installation plan’, added Xinhua.

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