Vulnerabilities / Threats

6/30/2009
09:42 AM
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China Delays 'Green Dam' Mandate

China has pushed back its deadline requiring all PCs sold in the country to include Web filtering software known as Green Dam. No new deadline has been set.

China has postponed its requirement that all PCs sold in the country include Web filtering software known as Green Dam.

According to a post on the Web site of the state-controlled news agency Xinhua, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said late Tuesday that the pre-installation requirement would be delayed because computer makers wanted more time for such a massive undertaking.

The MIIT had set July 1 as a deadline and some computer manufacturers have already begun complying with the order. Sony has started shipping PCs with Green Dam, accompanied by disclaimer about the risks posed by the software. Acer has reportedly expresses its intent to comply.

No new deadline was disclosed, leaving open the possibility that China might decide to abandon the filtering requirement.

The MIIT said that it would continue to provide Green Dam as a free download for users who wanted it, and would install the software on computers in schools and public Internet cafes. It intends to "keep on soliciting opinions to perfect the pre-installation plan," the Xinhua News Agency said.

The U.S. government, trade groups, and Internet users -- inside and outside China -- have objected to the Chinese government's Web filtering mandate.

Green Dam is supposed to block "unhealthy" content, such as pornography, but computer researchers who have studied the program say that it also blocks terms that are politically sensitive in China. The software has also been shown to have significant security vulnerabilities.

A U.S.-based software company, Solid Oak Software, claims that Green Dam includes copied programming code. It has threatened legal action against computer makers that ship PCs with Green Dam.

The company's complaints about Green Dam appear to have made it a target for retaliation. The company said recently that it had been targeted by a spear-phishing attack containing malicious files.

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