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article imageChinese Govt Bans Porn Access on PCs

By Jason Li     Jun 8, 2009 in Internet
The Chinese government is making it mandatory that all personal computers be installed with a software that bans questionable content. But some are wary that the installation could make government censorship easier.
In what seems to be an unsurprising move by a government often linked to restricted access, the Chinese government has ordered that all new PCs sold from July must be installed with a software called "Green Dam-Youth Escort".
The software blocks user access to sites with explicit images and content. Parents can also control their child's access to the internet.
Zhang Chenmin, the general manager of Jin Hui, the company which won the government contract, said: "If a father doesn't want his son to be exposed to content related to basketball or drugs, he can block all Web sites related to those things."
He stressed that the current software does not report surfing habits of the user back to the government and users can uninstall the program from their machines.
While pornographic websites are legalized in some Western countries, most conservative Asian countries frown upon them. Even in developed Asian countries like Singapore, pornography is illegal and violators can be incarcerated.
Some are concerned because the software can block other content, based on certain keywords. Analysts, like Harvard University's John Palfrey, are worried that future updates might render PCs surveillance tools of the government.
He added that although the software is uninstallable, most users will not know how to. Also, fears of the software leaving traces may also lead to self-censorship even after uninstallation.
"One of the most effective parts of China's controls is self-censorship, the perception that you are being watched or blocked," Palfrey told the Wall Street Journal.
With more that 250 million online, China, despite having extremely tight regulations, has the world's largest number of internet users.
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