Beijing, China – The Chinese government is insisting that all new PCs sold in the country be equipped with web filtering software.
The government says it wants to clamp down on porn sites, but many see the move as an attempt to clamp down on off-message reports from external news sites over which China has no control.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology says PC makers will be required to install its Green Dam Youth Escort Web blocking software on all PCs sold in China after July 1. The move is designed ‘to protect youth from unhealthy information’, says the Ministry.
Green Dam compares web images to samples of porn in its database and decides if the amount of flesh on display could corrupt impressionable minds. China blocked access to Microsoft’s new Bing search engine last week, adding it to a list of banned sites including YouTube and several blogging services. Twitter and Hotmail were also blocked ahead of last week’s 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre. It is not yet known if the sites will be unblocked now the anniversary is passed.
And in a move that would have Western antitrust watchers reaching for their green crayons, the Government says that, while it will pay for the software for the first 12 months, that users will then be forced to pay software house Jinhui, which wrote Green Dam, for the privilege of using the mandatory blocker.
Sales of PCs in China were close to 40 million units last year, second only to the US. Chinese outfit Lenovo accounted for around 27 percent, with HP at 14 percent and Dell at 8 percent.