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Green Dam live date 'unchanged'
By Cui Jia (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-06-23 07:48

China will not back away from its July 1 launch date for the controversial anti-pornography computer filter Green Dam Youth Escort, a Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) source said.

The assertion followed criticism from the US embassy in Beijing about the software's potential impact on trade and about technical issues that called into question the program's efficacy.

The Chinese government is calling for Green Dam software, which limits access to violent and pornographic websites, to be included with all computers sold on the Chinese mainland starting July 1.

"The US government is concerned about Green Dam, both in terms of its potential impact on trade and the serious technical issues raised by use of the software," a US embassy spokesperson said yesterday.

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Representatives from the US embassy, the MIIT and the Ministry of Commerce held a meeting on the subject on Friday but details of the discussion are unknown.

The US embassy spokesperson said the US government also viewed with concern any attempt to restrict the free flow of information. Such steps were incompatible with China's aspirations to build a modern, information-based economy and society, the spokesperson said.

The MIIT could not be reached for comments on the US embassy's remarks yesterday, other than to confirm the deadline still applied.

Several legal and technical experts had predicted that the government would revise or even scrap its directive.

Solid Oak, a 15-person US software company, said it has "solid evidence" to support a copyright infringement claim against the Chinese developers of the Green Dam filter, Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co and Dazheng Human Language Technology Co.

Zhang Chenmin, general manager of Jinhui, has denied that his company stole Solid Oak's programming code.

Solid Oak has demanded that all PC makers, including Hewlett Packard, Dell, Sony, Toshiba, Acer, Gateway and Lenovo, stop selling PCs with the Green Dam porn-filtering software included. The computer giants have not responded.

"I think the government is taking a risk by implementing the directive before the copyright issue is resolved, although the US company hasn't taken any legal action yet," Liu Yinliang, an intellectual property law expert from China University of Political Science and Law, told China Daily.

After the Green Dam software was criticized for apparent technical shortcomings, the developer released at least one security update and two filter updates, according to the appendix of Analysis of the Green Dam Censorware System, a report published on University of Michigan's website.

The updates addressed Web filtering security vulnerability, disabled certain blacklists that were allegedly copied from Solid Oak's CyberSitter program and brought the software into compliance with the OpenCV license that allows free commercial and educational use, according to the report.

"The software has not been adequately tested, and it would be almost impossible to ensure that it has no major problems before the July 1 deadline," J. Alex Halderman, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of Michigan, who co-wrote the report, told China Daily.

Critics claim the Chinese government is using the software to tighten censorship.

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