Gov’t Wants Censor Software on All PCs Sold in China

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Jun. 8 – Beijing is planning to require that all personal computers sold in the country starting July 1 include preloaded software that blocks access to websites deemed inappropriate by censors.

The software whose name translates to “Green Dam-Youth Escort” in English would connect PCs with a database of banned sites then block access to those addresses. The government said it wants to remove access to pornography websites and protect young people from “harmful” content, reports The Wall Street Journal.

When the new rule takes effect, it will give Chinese censors more control over how the internet is accessed in the country. Major Chinese PC company, Lenovo, will be one of the first of companies to comply with the regulation. In China, Lenovo already has claim on 26 percent of the pc market.

The new rule puts PC companies in a bind; do they assist in the censorship or do they disobey government rules of a major market such as China? Foreign companies doing business in China have so far complied to the Chinese government’s censorship requirements to much criticism.

Jinhui Computer System Engineering developed the software with the help of Beijing Dazheng Human Language Technology Academy, both are connected to China’s military and security ministry.

There are also reports that the software could cause PCs to malfunction, and transmit personal information as well as make them more susceptible to hacking.

“We are studying the new rule to assess its impact,” said Susan Stevenson, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing told The Wall Street Journal. “We would view any attempt to restrict the free flow of information with great concern and as incompatible with China’s aspirations to build a modern, information-based economy and society.”

The Chinese PC market is the second largest in the world, next only to the United States. Currently, access to sensitive sites in the country are already blocked by a sophisticated internet filtering system run by censors although access can still be done via the use of proxies.

The new rule will require that the software must preloaded on a PC’s hard drive or come with a compact disc. It will also require PC makers to submit a report detailing how many of its PCs have been shipped with the software.