Fri, Aug 14, 2009 - Page 11 News List

Chinese official says controversial Web filter optional


A top Beijing official said yesterday that a controversial Internet filter software was optional for all users after plans to install it on computers sold in China triggered a storm of protest.

“After you install the software, you can use it or you can decide not to use it,” Minister of Industry and Information Technology Li Yizhong (李毅中) said.

“When you buy a computer, a floppy disk or CD [with the software] is given out, and the right to choose resides with the parent, with society,” he told reporters in Beijing.

News in June that all computer makers had been ordered to install the software caused an outcry in China and abroad, with critics accusing the government of trying to increase controls online.

Beijing consistently countered that the filter was designed to shelter youngsters from pornography and violence and to give parents control over what their children view online.

But China abruptly postponed the plan on the eve of July 1, when it had planned to implement the rule.

Li said China would not force all computer makers to pre-install the software — called Green Dam Youth Escort — on the machines.

He acknowledged that the plan had not been explained well enough and said China would solicit public view on the software.

But he said China would continue to load it in public places such as schools and Internet cafes.

The ministry is working to enhance the capability of the software, which has the ability to filter out 90 percent of information including pornography, he said.

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