US pressures China, as China blocks Google

Washington, DC – The US is stepping up pressure on China to scrap its plan to put Green Dam net-filtering software on all its computers, saying the plan would violate World Trade Organisation free trade agreements.

The Green Dam Youth Escort software is designed to stop people looking at offensive content such as pornography or violence. From July 1, companies are required to include it in all new PCs.

But according to US Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, the requirement breaks WTO trade agreements. “China is putting companies in an untenable position by requiring them, with virtually no public notice, to pre-install software that appears to have broad-based censorship implications and network security issues,” Locke said in a statement.

In letters to the Chinese government, they have invited China to discuss other ways to promote parental control.

The letters also highlight security issues relating to the new software. Researchers have found that it hampers a computer’s performance by shutting down web browsers and applications without warning, in addition to other, more serious problems.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has taken its row with Google one step further and blocked access to the site.

A week ago, China accused Google of linking to ‘pornographic and vulgar’ content, and ordered it to stop. It blocked access to a number of search results.

Now, it seems, China has taken things a step further. Since Wednesday evening, Chinese users have been unable to access Google’s US or Chinese sites, along with Googlemail. A Foreign Ministry spokesman told AP that the government had summoned Google executives and urged them to remove the content immediately.

 See also China backs down over Green Dam filter; Green Dam porn-filter threatened by security vulnerabilities and legal challenges; Tiny firewall of China mandated for new PCs.