Chinese not backing down on censorship software

The Chinese government claims it has not dropped plans to install controversial net censorship software on new PCs, despite its abrupt decision to delay its release.

Chinese not backing down on censorship software

The surprise climbdown was reported by the Xinhua news agency, which said the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology would “delay the mandatory installation of the controversial ‘Green Dam-Youth Escort’ filtering software on new computers.”

Officials claim the software is intended to stamp out internet pornography, and computer companies had originally been told they had to bundle “Green Dam” with any personal computers sold from Wednesday.

But the order was assailed by opponents of censorship, industry groups and Washington officials as rash, politically intrusive, technically ineffective and commercially unfair. PC companies have mostly avoided making firm public statements on the issue.

But the English-language China Daily, citing an unidentified ministry official, claims the plan will eventually come to pass despite opposition: “The government will definitely carry on the directive on Green Dam. It’s just a matter of time,” the official was quoted as saying.

The reason for the delay was because some computer makers needed more time to include the software, the source claims, though the ministry declined comment.

The decision was the latest turn in a see-saw battle between the ruling Communist Party, wary of the internet as a conduit of political dissent and objectionable values, and social and commercial forces pressing to use the internet as a channel for more unfettered expression.

China has about 300 million Internet users and about 42.6 million PCs will be sold across the country this year, according to research firm Gartner.

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