Update: Great Chinese Firewall under fire

Recently I have been covering the topic of the aptly named 'Great Firewall of China'. This issue of internet based censorship has had some rather serious issues of morality surrounding it, with many of the reasons behind China's actions caked in a layer of uncertainty.

Without going too much into the details of the background, due to the fact that I want to concentrate on the recently updated news, please follow the numbered links should you wish to read my initial stories, if you haven't already. If you have, just skip past and read on.

1. China upgrades the Great Firewall, requires new software

2. Why China is no good for surfing

The time until China's deadline to PC manufacturers is growing shorter and shorter. The deadline of July 1 will mark the beginning of new legislation which requires that all PC's imported into the country, come pre-installed with the Chinese government's 'Green-Dam Project software'. This in short, is designed to reduce the amount of pornography which is likely to harm the younger generations within the country, critics damning it as a method of censorship.

Many PC companies seem to be quietly despondent about the matter, with representatives speaking anonymously to the media due to the sensitivity of the subject. Acer is currently the only company who publicly backs the project, along with other companies such as Dell and HP stating that they will be seeking additional advice on the matter.

Top U.S. trade officials have called on Beijing naming the software: a "serious barrier to trade". Beijing may have also violated its World Trade Organization commitments by failing to give companies adequate advance notice and time to comment.

MSNBC's website provides a quote from Acer's Spokesperson, Henry Wang on the matter. "We'll of course see how we can best accommodate the rules, There're rules when operating in any country, and we'll have to comply with them if necessary."

This uncertainty of compliance comes along with news from the Associated Press's website
where it reports that other PC companies are appealing directly to China to re-evaluate their request. Adding to pressure in Bejing, a letter from twenty two chambers of commerce representing some of the world's largest names in the technology world, follows an initial protest against the matter in Washington.

"The Green Dam mandate raises significant questions of security, privacy, system reliability, the free flow of information and user choice," Quote within the letter. Dated Friday.

This kind of direct protest is very unusual, according to the AP. Companies are normally reluctant to pass comment or judgement upon a particular government for fear of retaliation, or tarnishing business relationships. The letter has been signed by some big names, representatives from the U.S. National Association of Manufacturers and trade groups, including representatives from Japan and Europe. This makes an almost world wide issue with the implementation of the Green-Dam Project. The letter also states that the filtering plan "seems to run counter to China's important goal of becoming a vibrant and dynamic information-based society," a statement which lies concurrent to a statement provided by Susan Stevenson a spokeswoman for the US embassy in Beijing some weeks prior to this news. (Further details can be found in my previous articles.) However, a spokeswoman for China's ministry of commerce has declined to comment regarding the letter, stating she has not heard about its existence.

The system has also been publicly disliked by free speech activists along with some of China's 298 million internet users. Despite this attack upon the software, the Chinese government maintains that the software is needed to block access to violent and obscene material.

Whilst this may seem a positive step, certain analysts who have reviewed the program say it also contains code to filter out material the government considers politically objectionable, whilst researchers at the University of Michigan found: "serious security vulnerabilities due to programming errors" that could allow any web site a user visits to take control of a PC. This news along with some previously about the Chinese government in argument with search engine giant Google seems to only reinforce the assumption that perhaps the Green-Dam project has a darker political underbelly.

Finally, the Chinese manufacturer of the software has also received death threats in amongst some one thousand harassing telephone calls. Zhang Chenmin, the general manager of the company, told the official Xinhua News Agency that one caller threatened to kill his wife and child.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

End of the line for MSN Web Messenger

Next Story

Firefox 3.5 to be released June 30

45 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

daPhoenix on 28 Jun 2009 - 09:25
Yup, it's listed under Add/Remove or Program Features depending on your Windows version.

Much like Net Nanny or BabySitter etc.


It will not require a password to uninstall ?
Will it phone 'home' while uninstalling, add you to a blacklist?

Yeah Right! If you all really care about China how about helping Africa? They're dieing screwing around spreading AIDS, with Hunger, etc etc

Haha, its funny neowin never talks about such and neither do you all

JunkMail said,
Yeah Right! If you all really care about China how about helping Africa? They're dieing screwing around spreading AIDS, with Hunger, etc etc

Haha, its funny neowin never talks about such and neither do you all

China gave Robert Mugabe his guns so he can continue to murder people who do not vote for him and hold on to power.

America put sanctions on poor countries killing millions of innocent people then call it collateral damage, I doubt Mugabe, North Korea, and China combined have killed the amount of innocent people America has killed in the last twenty years. In fact America has the largest prison population on the planet.

China has a right to protect its sovereignty any why it feels fit, how the hell you think they maintained 5,000 years of continues civilization second only by Cush.

When you come to think about it, not that much different than the EU not allowing Microsoft to use its own products the way they like it.

Yes I can clearly see how you can connect the dots between government based censorship of information and oppression to having someone tell your browser sucks and you should allow alternative ones to be shipped alongside it.

I can understand international PC manufacturers seeing the Green Dam as a lose - lose proposition: comply with China or don't sell PCs there -- comply with China & risk lost sales elsewhere, during bad economic times no less.

But I have to wonder at the motives of the U of M (among others)... They show off their tech skills listing vulnerabilities & posting a test site with a proof of concept exploit. But why hasn't the U of M stood behind their alleged principles & published work-a-rounds, cracks & the like? Why hasn't the U of M provided details to help jumpstart the work of others? Why has the U of M, for that matter, confined it's comments to security vulnerabilities, while turning a blind eye to the censorship that is the software's sole purpose?

Now I'm sure Chinese citizens don't/won't need any outside help with the Green Dam software, so that's not the point. I'm just wondering how many institutions & governments worldwide actually agree with what the Chinese government is doing, but publicly only make what they feel are appropriate noises? Both the U of M & the US gov have been shown always leaning towards censorship in the past -- now's not a bad time to call them on their hypocrisy.

Wait.... I say "beware" SPY people you're the only one who will be scared in China (citizens of China are BOT afraid of anything) hehe

Why should we care about China? we are not in China are we? Besides, Chinese people don't want democracy Ordinary Chinese people don't care much about internet... Its the outsiders who want put their porn to MAX! lool

JunkMail said,
Why should we care about China?

Why should we care about the US presidential elections or why some random entertainer died - Neowin is owned by a Dutch resident, after all?

Indeed, perhaps you should care that the largest nation in the world is smacking their people around because their actions eventually touch you as well.

Yup, it's listed under Add/Remove or Program Features depending on your Windows version.

Much like Net Nanny or BabySitter etc.

Rudimentary said,
The people of china deserve better

Easy to say, come here and see if it's so easy to do.

Rudimentary said,
they probably cant even access the evil neowin!

I'm in China and i can access Neowin, never had problems, things are not excellent here but not so bad as US and EU like to think, because we must be honest, pointing to the problems others have makes us forget our ones at least for a little time.

P.S. i'm not chinese

Well, I'm Chinese and I hardly ever approve of anything in China. Perhaps it comes with being raised in a Western society.

As for revolution. I don't think anybody would be brave enough to protest, not with 4th of June and Tibet. And basically is over pornography....making it all the more amusing. Chinese are known to be tolerant anyway, and quite savvy in stuff computer related. This firewall won't last long before codes to get around is all over China. And it is notoriously hard to crack anything down in China.

Eddo89 said,
...This firewall won't last long before codes to get around is all over China. And it is notoriously hard to crack anything down in China.

Codes?? It takes nothing more than Tor I thought!! :P

And is the article still discussing the software that ONLY works on IE and Windows?

Going off topic meanwhile, I read something about companies supplying Chnia with software and censoring themselves (Google e.t.c) worrying about their reputations getting tarnished...surely denying China the right to censoring would get them a certain amount of respect from Western places who are against such things? Or maybe just my respect :P

They already "got rid" of communism a *long* time ago. There's nothing even remotely communist left anymore, only a completely empty name.

Lord Ba'al said,
They already "got rid" of communism a *long* time ago. There's nothing even remotely communist left anymore, only a completely empty name.

Economically, but politically, the communist party still rules in the name of the revolution. They have final word. For all purposes besides destroying the free market, china is still very much adheres to statist communism.

Tungsten T said,
Economically, but politically, the communist party still rules in the name of the revolution. They have final word. For all purposes besides destroying the free market, china is still very much adheres to statist communism.

this is then dictatorship and not communism...

Tungsten T said,
Economically, but politically, the communist party still rules in the name of the revolution. They have final word. For all purposes besides destroying the free market, china is still very much adheres to statist communism.

That's not communism..

nonick said,
That's not communism..

You'll find that vast majority of people (especially in the 'States) have no idea what communism really is - they were so brain washed during the Cold War and Reagan period that anything with a red flag automatically means they' "evil commies who want to kill us or subjugate their people".

They can't see the difference between a totalitarianism and a communist state.

And you can still un-install the damn filter. It's still just pre-installed.

From Wikipedia:
The People's Republic of China People's Republic of China (PRC), commonly known as Communist China or simply China, has control over mainland China and the largely self-governing territories of Hong Kong (since 1997) and Macau (since 1999).

And the definition of communism from Wikipedia:
Communism (from Latin: communis = "common") is a socioeconomic structure and political ideology that promotes the establishment of an egalitarian, classless, stateless society based on common ownership and control of the means of production and property in general.[1][2][3] In political science, the term "communism" is sometimes used to refer to communist states, a form of government in which the state operates under a one-party system and declares allegiance to Marxism-Leninism or a derivative thereof, even if the party does not actually claim that it has already reached communism.

They have opened the markets up a tad since the UK returned Hong Kong, and they saw the wealth that could bring to there country. But the government remains the same, communist!

I might add that Socialism, which is where Obama is leading the United States into, is considered a transitional stage into Communism. Many people say he is going straight into Marxism, which is simply a branch of Commuunism. So one day you all may be on here talking about the Great Firewall of the US.

I was writing quite large message, but deleted it to prevent flooding and bashing.

All I say - it's a social-democratic country, not totalitarian, not communist, not dictatorial. They prefer to call it socialistic. However technically it does social-democratic system.

Tungsten T said,
Economically, but politically, the communist party still rules in the name of the revolution. They have final word. For all purposes besides destroying the free market, china is still very much adheres to statist communism.

CINOs. Communists In Name Only.

Communism is the economic policy, no matter what the political party calls itself.

It is sad to see this number of victims of cold-war propaganda.. but I suppose it means that the government of the USA has mastered information warfare a while ago, so there is reason for some of you to be happy about it.
"Anything that isn't the American version of capitalism, is communism, and communism is evil!!"
Lol.

Elections in the People's Republic of China take two forms. Direct elections occur for village councils in designated rural areas, and for the local People's Congress in all areas. All other levels of the People's Congress up to the National People's Congress, the national legislature, are indirectly elected by the People's Congress of the level immediately below. Executive positions, including the President, the State Council and provincial governors are indirectly elected by the People's Congress of the relevant level. While universal franchise is guaranteed in principle by the Constitution, in practice the Communist Party of China maintains full control of the entire electoral process. In practice, only members of the Communist Party of China, eight allied parties (the "democratic parties"), and sympathetic independent candidates are ever elected in any election beyond the local village level.

Wodin said,
I might add that Socialism, which is where Obama is leading the United States into, is considered a transitional stage into Communism. Many people say he is going straight into Marxism, which is simply a branch of Commuunism. So one day you all may be on here talking about the Great Firewall of the US.

Obama is NOT turning this country into a socialist nation. We already have many socialist programs, Police dept., Fire dept, Public works dept, et al. You are just buying the neocon line.

Wikipedia again:
"Socialism refers to any one of various theories of economic organization advocating state or cooperative ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and a society characterized by equal opportunities/means for all individuals with a more egalitarian method of compensation based on the full product of the laborer."

Never before the Obama administration has the US Government held ownership in any private enterprise. We now have majority ownership in Chrysler and AIG, and have even fired some executives. That my friend is Socialism.

The other major component is the Robin Hood concept, tax the rich into oblivion and give it to the poor; Hence, everyone becomes equal. It's wonderful sounding ideology, but in practice it never has worked, and never will. Well, if making everyone poor is the goal, I suppose it has worked, but thats the only thing it does.

Tungsten T said,
Economically, but politically, the communist party still rules in the name of the revolution. They have final word. For all purposes besides destroying the free market, china is still very much adheres to statist communism.

I see little difference between Communism and corporate mafias. They've got their thugs, crooks, and killers, and we've got Wall Street, Halliburton, Blackwater, etc. And you think there is no censorship here? Put up an anti-US government website in the US and watch what happens to you next time you try to board a plane or apply for a job. Or try to get that kind of info to the mainstream media. They'll ignore those kinds of stories and instead you'll hear about what a wonderful job Obama is doing, even though he's done nothing different from Bush.

Lord Ba'al said,
They already "got rid" of communism a *long* time ago. There's nothing even remotely communist left anymore, only a completely empty name.

Same with North Korea. If someone passes ruling power from father to son trough a couple of generations and all major posts are taken by ruler's relatives then its called monarchy and not communism.

Dictatorship and censorship exists in all countries (more of less). Rich countries have more freedoms but people still die in UK when exercising their democratic rights even today. In China you can loose job and your carrier will be destroyed if you say something "incorrect" in politics. In UK you will meet similar destruction if you say something "incorrect" about race or equality. Usually it doesn't matter if you are wrong or right and people will take you down before you will have chance to explain. In true democracy there is no taboo topics. For now freedom is just for strong and/or rich people who can defend themselves and are not afraid to loose their jobs.