BEIJING—The Chinese government has decided not to follow through on its plans to install anti-pornography software on every computer made for consumers and instead will mandate filtering only in schools, internet cafes and other public places.
The announcement was made Thursday by Industry and Information Technology Minister Li Yizhong, who said the program, Green Dam/Youth Escort, was never intended to be required on every new computer. The prevailing notion was “a misunderstanding” spawned by poorly written regulations.
According to the New York Times, the policy change means the software no longer is required to be pre-installed on new computers and computer makers will not be forced to include the program on a CD with optional software.
However, China-based Lenovo and Taiwan’s Acer will continue to include the software on computers sold in China. That decision presumably will not raise the ire of the United States, which previously warned China the installation requirement could be seen as a violation of world trade regulations.
The mandate to force the software onto all computers had been scheduled to take effect June 30, but the information ministry postponed the requirement at the last minute, with the excuse that manufacturers needed more time to work out the installation logistics. Thursday's announcement appears to make that suspension permanent.
The original policy, however, was consistent with China's recent efforts to keep sexually explicit and other undesired content unavailable to its citizens. Foreign-based websites such as Facebook, Flickr and YouTube are blocked, internal sites that contain politically sensitive information or ideas also have been shut down or blocked, and recently the government even proposed a rule that would force the users of chat rooms and bulletin boards to use their own names instead of aliases.
Despite these oppressive measures, however, Chinese citizens have continued to make their way around filters to receive and send files and ideas the government would prefer to control.