China’s Green Dam Is Back – And Aiming At Apple

Security

Campaigners celebrated too soon: China has said it will press ahead with its Green Dam filtering software – and a version is coming for the Apple Macintosh

The Chinese Government has promised to revive the controversial Green Dam Internet filter – and deliver a version for the Apple Macintosh.

China’s Ministry of Industry and IT has said it “will definitely carry on the directive on Green Dam,” the Internet filtering software which earlier this week was reported to have been delayed indefinitely, amid criticism that it was unsafe and broke trade laws.

And this time, Apple Macintosh users will also come into its sights. A new version for the Macintosh is being tested by Green Dam maker Jinhui Computer System Engineering Company, bringing Mac users under the sway of a programme so far aimed only at Windows users.

In early June the Chinese government announced to PC makers that, by July 1, all computer sold in China would have shipped with Green Dam Youth Escort, a Web-filtering software said to protect minors from pornography and other “poisonous” content.

Days later, several US technology advocacy groups banded together, asking the Chinese government to reconsider its mandate and “welcoming the opportunity for meaningful dialogue” about parental control software.

However, researchers at the University of Michigan revealed that the software blocked users from an extensive cache of terms including mentions of homosexuality and banned exercise technique Falun Gong — and also had serious security flaws. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology then told AP that the software was “not compulsory.”

On June 30, just under the mandate deadline, the Ministry reportedly announced that “for practical factors including heavy workload” companies may delay pre-installing the software.

Before celebrating could too heavily get underway, on July 2 the Ministry told China Daily that the mandate had only been delayed, not cancelled, and that “The government will definitely carry on the directive on Green Dam,” according to a report from Information Week.

When the Wall Street Journal first broke the story in early June, Green Dam was described as having been developed by Jinhui Computer System Engineering, with input from Beijing Dazheng Human Language Technology Academy, and compatible with the Microsoft Windows operating system. This left Apple quietly on the sidelines, while HP, Lenovo, Dell and others wondered how to proceed.

A sales representative at the Beijing Apple store said Green Dam wasn’t being bundled with new machines, since there was no Mac version, but that when one becomes available — which Jinhui says it is testing — then the Apple store would “pre-install the program in accordance with the government mandate,” the sales rep said, according to a July 2 news from PC World.

A spokesperson for Apple declined to comment.

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