China will require that all computers sold in the country include a software able to filter access to certain sites. It is another step towards controlling access by porn nationals, and it is feared that it will not stop there.
The move follows a repressive trend on the part of the Chinese government that has led to the closure of thousands of sites this year, and which is feared will extend to a ban on content, not just pornographic, but political.
According to an official note from the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which the news site IDG News will have had access to, computer manufacturers will be required to pre-install – or make available on CD-ROM – on all computers sold in the country from 1 July a program to block websites.
The aim of the measure is to protect the youngest children from «harmful information on the Internet, which could influence and poison young people», according to the document cited by this source. The program only blocks pornography sites and can be deactivated by parents, said the head of Engineering at Jinhui Computer System, the company that developed the software. But the measure raises concerns about the use of such tools as censorship mechanisms.
THE software – designated «Green Dam-Youth Escort» – blocks access to a list of sites considered to be prohibited. The websites thus classified include a database that is updated regularly and to which the system is permanently linked, so that it too is updated.
According to the Wall Street Journal report on this matter, foreign experts who have examined the software warn that it can transmit personal information about the owner of the computer, cause problems in the operation of PCs and make them more vulnerable to hacking. It will also be difficult for users to know for sure what content is actually being blocked.
The person responsible for Dell in China has already expressed his intention to only include this software on brand computers if your sole purpose is to prevent children’s access to pornographic content, and if the filter can be disabled by adults. He also added that he has not yet received any notification ordering the use of this program. Dell is the third largest seller of computers in Chinese territory.
The spokesman for Hewlett-Packard Co. – the company that sells the most computers in the country – told the Wall Street Journal that the company was working with the government to find the best way to address this issue, in order to provide the best service to customers while complying with regulatory requirements.