The BBC today reported that the Xinhua News Agency has recently announced that China is to delay a controversial plan that would require all new computers sold in the country to be equipped with internet filtering software (Green Dam Youth Escort). According to the BBC, “Officials say it is designed to shield children from pornography and violence. However, free speech activists have criticised the software plan as an attempt to tighten the Chinese government’s already strict controls on internet usage”.
The Xinhua report is as follows: “BEIJING, June 30 (Xinhua) — China will delay the mandatory installation of the controversial “Green Dam-Youth Escort” filtering software on new computers, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said here Tuesday. The pre-installation was delayed as some computer producers said such massive installation demanded extra time, said the ministry. All computers produced or sold in China were scheduled to be installed with such software after July 1, according to MIIT’s previous announcement. The ministry would continue to provide a free download of the software and equip school and Internet bar computers with it after July 1, said a spokesman with MIIT. The ministry would also keep on soliciting opinions to perfect the pre-installation plan, he said. The software is designed to block violence and pornographic contents on the Internet to protect minors. It could also help parents control how much time their children spent online“.
This is yet another example of the intricate changes in relationships between states and individuals that have been enabled by ICTs. Much more work needs to be done better to understand the ethical implications of such changes.