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China delays roll out of Internet filters -

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China delays roll out of Internet filters

Meredith Griffiths reported this story on Wednesday, July 1, 2009 12:46:00

PETER CAVE: For the past few weeks there's been growing anger online at the Chinese Government's
plan to force manufacturers to install filtering software on all new computers sold there.

China says it will block offensive material, such as pornography or violent images.

But Chinese bloggers claimed that the hidden features in the software enable it to block sites
which the Government considers politically unacceptable.

The software was supposed to be rolled out today, but the authorities have announced that it's been
delayed.

Meredith Griffiths reports.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: People hopping online in China already encounter one of the tightest censorship
regimes in the world; but for the past few weeks prominent Chinese bloggers have been urging
netizens to protest against the "Great Firewall".

The growing wave of online opposition was sparked by the Chinese Government's announcement that
manufacturers would need to install filtering software on all new computers before they were sold.

The software is called Green Dam-Youth Escort and Beijing-based IT businessman Michael Robinson
says the Government claims it's designed to filter out pornography.

MICHAEL ROBINSON: It's been marketed by the Ministry of Information industry as a tool for parents
such as is commonly used in Western countries to prevent their children from accessing unhealthy
web content.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: But Chinese bloggers claim that hidden features in the software enable it to
block sites which the Government considers politically sensitive.

Michael Robinson again.

MICHAEL ROBINSON: There are sites that have been identified that the software does automatically
block. But whether this is comprehensive or whether it would be difficult to circumvent by an adult
in full control of the computer is a different matter.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: The policy was supposed to come into force today, but at the eleventh hour the
Chinese Government announced that the roll out was being delayed.

It didn't say why. Some Chinese bloggers are claiming victory, but Associate Professor Feng Chongyi
from the China Research Centre at the University of Technology Sydney doesn't think it was public
pressure that caused the Government to back down.

FENG CHONGYI: According to the news, in China, in Chinese media it's not going to work anyway.
Because people would invent new method, new techniques to bypass it as they did in the past.

And secondly, it's also commercial, it may run into difficulty with WTO (World Trade Organization).

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: He says international corporations; the American Government and trade officials
had warned China it risked violating its obligations to the World Trade Organization because it
awarded the contract to just one company

FENG CHONGYI: Chinese have been working on the law against monopoly as well, so it have quite a
strong commercial implication if the Government does give the contract to one company and force all
the softwares to install this software on the computer.

You can imagine how much profit this company will get from that.

MEREDITH GRIFFITHS: Concerns had also been raised that the software could expose computers to
viruses and other security risks.

The Chinese Government has not given a new deadline for manufacturers to install the software.

Do you think that this is a sign that China will give up on its plans to tightly censor the
internet?

FENG CHONGYI: Not at all, not at all. Because the entire policy is still intact, how effective I
don't know, but they are going to do their best to manipulate the information.

PETER CAVE: Professor Feng Chongyi ending that report from Meredith Griffiths.