Sat, Jul 04, 2009 - Page 11 News List

PC makers to voluntarily include China Web filter

‘GREEN DAM YOUTH ESCORT’: Although manufacturers said they would provide the software on new machines, a staffer at one firm said uninstalling the filter was a snap

AFP , SHANGHAI

Several PC makers said yesterday they were voluntarily including China’s controversial Internet filter software in new shipments despite Beijing’s decision to postpone making it mandatory.

The government had been set to introduce the Chinese-made filtering program — called “Green Dam Youth Escort” — but announced the delay hours before its implementation on Wednesday.

However, customer service staff at PC manufacturers, including Taiwan’s Acer Inc (宏碁) and China’s Haier Group (海爾), said they were installing or packaging the software with new PCs.

They added that it was easy to uninstall.

“You will find it with our PCs, as the state has requested. But ... you can easily find a patch on the Internet to uninstall it,” one of Acer’s service staff told reporters on the phone, asking not to be named.

Beijing has said the software was aimed at filtering out porno­graphy, but computer experts found it was also programmed to suppress politically sensitive material, prompting criticism at home and abroad.

Lenovo (聯想), China’s biggest computer maker, did not immediately reply to questions on the Green Dam software, but the official English-language China Daily newspaper said it was included on the firm’s PCs.

A Tokyo-based Sony spokeswoman told reporters the program is on its China-made computers to “click on and install” if the customers wanted it.

“We have distributed it with our personal computers as a set-up file in the hard drive software,” she said.

“The users can choose whether to activate the software or not. So it’s up to the customers to choose whether to install it or not, but it’s already on the hard disk,” the Sony spokeswoman said.

She declined to speculate on how much longer Sony would keep installing the software, saying: “We cannot really comment on the future.”

An official with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which licensed the technology from two local software ­developers, told the newspaper on Thursday that the directive’s delay was only temporary.

“The government will definitely carry on the directive on Green Dam. It’s just a matter of time,” the unnamed official was quoted as saying.

Some other PC makers said they are still discussing with the government and are not installing the software without Beijing’s final word.

US personal computer giant Dell said in a statement: “We continue our discussions with the Chinese government and are not shipping Green Dam software.”

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