China scraps Green Dam

Robert Clark
Telecom Asia

Chinese authorities have given up on mass adoption of the unpopular Green Dam web filtering software. In a rare climbdown by a Chinese official, Li Yizhong, Minister for Industry and Information Technology, last month admitted the ministry got it wrong.

Li said the plan to install the software on every PC in China was "not thoughtful enough," the state-owned China Daily reported.

"We will listen to the public's views before issuing a new directive on Green Dam," he said, but declined to put a timetable on it.

The concession effectively scuppers the program, although Li said Green Dam would be installed on school and internet café computers. He said the government had intended the software to be sold as a CD-ROM with PCs, but was not intended to be pre-installed.

"The choice of words in the directive was not clear enough, which led to people's misunderstanding of why the Green Dam software was ordered to be available on all computers," he said. Chinese publication time-weekly.com said Li had been misled by the ministry's software and service department, which had invested 42 million yuan ($6.1 million) on the filtering program.

"This is current international practice," they reportedly told him.  The filtering software was to be shipped from July 1, but the plan was called off at the last minute after an outcry from PC-makers and local internet users.

Foreign PC firms said they had not been given enough time to prepare, and warned that they could be liable for litigation because of a patent dispute between a US company and the Chinese firm behind the software.

Testing of Green Dam by independent foreign groups found that as well as blocking pornographic content it registered false positives and censored political key words.

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