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Mandatory Loading of Cyber Porn Filter Delayed

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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 on Tuesday.

The pre-installation was postponed as some computer producers said such massive installation demanded extra time, said the ministry.

"The ministry would keep on soliciting opinions to perfect the pre-installation plan," a spokesman with MIIT said.

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 the spokesman.

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 spend online.

However, the ministry did not mention when the pre-installation requirement would resume its effect.

Safe, legal and trustworthy

Although the pre-installation plan had aroused much controversy, MIIT defended its plan as a safe, legal and trustworthy one.

The pre-installation would not be compulsory, as the software could be easily switched off and uninstalled by computer users, the spokesman reaffirmed.

It would not collect the online activities of users or collect any information about users, he said.

Accusations of the software's privacy invasion and blocking information flow, which had been raised by a few overseas media and institutions, is "groundless" and "irresponsible", he said.

Developers of the "Green Dam", greatly concerned over software security, had also modified the software as technical problems had been revealed during earlier promotion. They will continue to improve the software with services packs and upgrades, said the spokesman.

The spokesman also mentioned that the government procurement procedure of the software had complied with China's Government Procurement Law, which was open, fair, transparent, non-exclusive, and under strict supervision.

The procurement of such filtering software is "an act for public good", and is in line with regulations of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Popular among parents

The software, however, had already gained much popularity among parents, according to Zhao Huiqin, president of Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co. Ltd., developer of "Green Dam".

"There had been a geometric growth in Green Dam users this month," she said, pointing out that they had seen an average of more than 100,000 users registering the software per day, while the highest daily level had reached over 400,000.

Statistics from MIIT showed that the software had been downloaded 7.17 million times from the company's Web site by the end of last month, and 2.62 million computers in schools across the country, as well as 4.7 million ones in Internet bars, had been protected by "Green Dam".

A business man surnamed Zhou, who lives in China's eastern Hangzhou City and has a pupil at home, registered for the software a week ago.

"Now I am at ease when my kid surfs on the Internet," he told Xinhua, as "Green Dam" had shut down most of the pornographic and other unpleasant contents in the past week.

The software could prevent 90 percent of improper content from the Internet, according to a third-party evaluation, said MIIT.

"I have read quite some negative reports on the software, but I need to take my child into consideration," Zhou said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 1, 2009)