Chinese Internet users are calling on fellow web surfers to stay offline on July 1, the debut of a controversial software filter that critics say the Chinese government is using to tighten censorship.
New regulations from Beijing mandate “Green Dam,” a program sold by Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co., be pre-installed on personal computers manufactured or shipped after July 1. China says the filter is designed to block pornography. [ID:nPEK51915]
But many web users and activists both inside and outside China fear a campaign against “unhealthy” sites is a pretext for a wider crackdown on groups and websites that the government fears or disapproves of.
Ai Weiwei is among those calling for a boycott (see his blog post here). The U.S. government is continuing to protest against the filter. From the Christian Science Monitor:
“We would like to see the Green Dam mandate revoked, and will continue efforts to convince Chinese authorities to do so,” a US official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We hope that China will look at the broad array of concerns that the Green Dam mandate has prompted from its own citizens, from global PC companies, and from other governments, and revoke this measure.”
Bryan Zhang, head of Jinhui Computer System Engineering, also stressed that his company designed Green Dam’s so that parents could adjust the settings, but not remove websites from the official black list.
Such controls are still troubling, says the US embassy in China, because it “views with concern any attempt to restrict the free flow of information.”
Update: In response to the U.S. government’s protest, authorities in China say that they are sticking to the original release date for Green Dam. From China Daily:
China will not back away from its July 1 launch date for the controversial...
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