China Calls for Filters on PCs

BEIJING — The Chinese government has ordered that all computers sold in the country offer a filtering option to protect children.

As of July 1, all PC makers must preload machines with porn-restriction software or include a CD allowing the user to install it.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the installed Web filter would block "harmful" sites. The software is called "Green Dam-Youth Escort," and is offered by the Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co. in conjunction with Beijing Dazheng Human Language Technology Academy Co.

Bryan Zhang, general manager of Jinhui, stated parents can turn off the software, which is specifically designed to protect children from pornographic content. He added the government will pay for the first year of the program's use for all PC buyers, after which the application can be bought directly from Jinhui.

All PCs loaded with the software will tap into a government-sanctioned list of banned sites maintained by Jinhui. This list could include political and other unacceptable sites to the government, not just sites deemed pornographic, notes The Register

The Chinese government already censors Web content through its so-called "Great Firewall of China," though some have still been able to bypass it.

There also are concerns over computer security as well, because foreign computer experts said the software could convey personal information, cause PCs to malfunction, and make them more vulnerable to hacking, The Journal reported.

If most of the China's PCs are linked to the single blacklist site for regular updates, it could make them all an easy target for malware and malicious botnets, tech experts said.

Additionally, industry testers report Green Dam, which is designed to work with Microsoft's Windows operating system, could conflict with other applications, causing glitches or even system crashes.

As previously reported by, China launched a new anti-porn Internet campaign this year, which led to the shuttering of thousands of sites, not all of them pornographic, some political in nature.

Just last week, China blocked access to Microsoft's Bing search engine, joining banned sites YouTube, Twitter, Hotmail and various blog services due to the 20th anniversary of Beijing's brutal and violent crush democracy protests in Tianemen Square, though the sites can now reportedly again be accessed in China.

Meanwhile, PC makers are reacting to the new dictum for the parental control software.

Hewlett-Packard is said to be China's No. 1 PC vendor. A spokeswoman told The Journal the company is "working with the government authorities and evaluating the best way to approach this. Obviously we will focus on delivering the best customer experience while ensuring that we meet necessary regulatory requirements."

Dell, ranked the No. 3 PC seller in China, told IDG News Service the software will be incorporated only it truly is designed to block porn from children and only if can be disabled by adult users. The company also said it had yet to be notified by China regarding implementation of the software in new PCs.