China orders censorship firewall on all PCs

China’s government is to force computer manufacturers to equip all new machines with content filtering software. Officially it is to block material such as pornography, but there are fears it will be used as another method of silencing political critics.

The plan will extend the so-called ‘Great Firewall of China’, which operates on a network level, to individual desktops. Users will reportedly be allowed to remove the software, though it appears officials will be aware of which people choose to do this.

For those who don’t remove the software, their computers will be blocked from accessing sites listed on a database, which will be updated remotely. Individual users will be allowed to add and remove sites to and from the list, however, this will be a laborious process as the list itself will be kept secret.

The software, developed by a firm with links to the Chinese military and security agencies, is named Green Dam-Youth Escort. Green apparently refers to the idea of an internet free from ‘objectionable’ content. Firms which have examined the software say it could also allow the government to gather personal data on users, and that it may also make users more vulnerable to hacking attacks.

Jinhui Computer System Engineering says it was paid $3 million to produce the software which will be distributed without charge to all manufacturers. They must either install it on machines or include it on a bundled disc.

The move will cause a dilemma for overseas firms which supply China. They’ll have to decide between pulling out of what is potentially the world’s largest market, or actively complying in censorship.

Chinese censorship has been in the news recently after the government temporarily blocked access to sites including Twitter and Hotmail, apparently to limit discussion during the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests.

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14 Responses to China orders censorship firewall on all PCs

  1. I knew China was strict with their internet, but this is going a little too far I think. Free will is slowly being phased out of their society, it seems.

    • This presumes that there was a culture of free will in their society in the first place. China is known for a great number of great things, fostering free will is not one of them.

  2. I knew China was strict with their internet, but this is going a little too far I think. Free will is slowly being phased out of their society, it seems.

    • This presumes that there was a culture of free will in their society in the first place. China is known for a great number of great things, fostering free will is not one of them.

    • This presumes that there was a culture of free will in their society in the first place. China is known for a great number of great things, fostering free will is not one of them.

  3. When the government of Mainland China says it's aim is to block "child pornography" or "drugs, illegal content" be sure that their real aim is to silence political opposition.

    This is a very sad day for China because even though restrictions already exist for Chinese users, the situation was improving and this is a step backward, not forward.

    I am unsure how the government plans to know when a user has uninstalled the software (or when they formatted the HDD all together) but even if they don't, the large population of Chinese internet users are not computer savy and will hardly bother to remove any software.

    Software restrictions is nothing new for the Communist Party; they also convinced Skype to release a "special" version of their software, effectively allowing all conversations to be monitored. Unfortunately for them, it is very hard to win the software battle and as soon as they start saying that citizens must install certain software and cannot remove it (by either installing a new OS from scratch or simply removing it) they're gonna get some heat (or at least I hope they do).

  4. When the government of Mainland China says it’s aim is to block “child pornography” or “drugs, illegal content” be sure that their real aim is to silence political opposition.

    This is a very sad day for China because even though restrictions already exist for Chinese users, the situation was improving and this is a step backward, not forward.
    I am unsure how the government plans to know when a user has uninstalled the software (or when they formatted the HDD all together) but even if they don’t, the large population of Chinese internet users are not computer savy and will hardly bother to remove any software.

    Software restrictions is nothing new for the Communist Party; they also convinced Skype to release a “special” version of their software, effectively allowing all conversations to be monitored. Unfortunately for them, it is very hard to win the software battle and as soon as they start saying that citizens must install certain software and cannot remove it (by either installing a new OS from scratch or simply removing it) they’re gonna get some heat (or at least I hope they do).

  5. The issue is more pervasive than censorship. This software could easily be used to monitor and access information inside corporations. This could give Chinese government officials unprecedented information access that could be used for any reason. This course of action could profoundly impact US and Euro companies doing business in China.

  6. The issue is more pervasive than censorship. This software could easily be used to monitor and access information inside corporations. This could give Chinese government officials unprecedented information access that could be used for any reason. This course of action could profoundly impact US and Euro companies doing business in China.

  7. I'm sure the PRC will just force educational and state-owned (many) institutions to use the software. I don't think access to the internet will be blocked to anyone not using the software.

  8. I’m sure the PRC will just force educational and state-owned (many) institutions to use the software. I don’t think access to the internet will be blocked to anyone not using the software.

  9. I would be worried but I use Freedur, which is a awesome proxy tool, and I have access to anything. I have tried every other solution and truly all are to hard to use or just don't work well…

  10. I would be worried but I use Freedur, which is a awesome proxy tool, and I have access to anything. I have tried every other solution and truly all are to hard to use or just don’t work well…

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