Yesterday, an MIIT (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology) directive was leaked to Rebecca MacKinnon of Rconversations that stated that as of 1 July, all computers for distribution in China must have the net nanny software “Green Dam – Youth Escort” pre-installed. The Shanghai Daily reported today that schools in China had already received this directive last month. This news comes after the social media crackdown last week and reports that Twitter and Flickr have been unblocked in Shanghai.
The list of blocked sites will be managed by a company in Henan called Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co. who says the list can be edited by the owner of the computer and additional search terms can also be blocked. The company’s GM Chenmin Zhang explains:
“If a father doesn’t want his son to be exposed to content related to basketball or drugs, he can block all Websites related to those things,” Zhang said, adding that conversely, users also could unblock Websites listed in the database.
So, the question is, how worried should people be? Imagethief seems nonplussed about it, saying that it’s not clear whether or it’s packaged or pre-installed. He is also a believer that Chinese capitalism and ingenuity from below will make sure there’s always someone to take care of that pesky problem for you. Its backers claim that it is largely targeted at porn—which seems, to Imagethief at least, to mean that it is doomed to failure. He also brings up the point that it seems Windows based, a relief to the 1% of people in China on some form of OS X or Linux, as well as those using various mobile device operating systems.
We optimistically hope that this means the actual GFW policing will be more relaxed since new computers will have firewall capabilities built-in. We also hope that the ability to control what is blocked is not removed in subsequent updates of the software.
Image by inju