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Chinese Government To Mandate PC Censorware 189

Posted by timothy
from the top-downers-score-a-point dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Chinese government has sponsored the development of a censorware package called 'Green Dam Youth Escort'; basically a PC-resident IP blocker that gets regular updates of banned sites from a central government site. There are now plans afoot to mandate that all new PCs sold in China be shipped with this software. The rationale behind this is to 'stop the poisoning of children's minds.'"
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Chinese Government To Mandate PC Censorware

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday June 08, 2009 @07:15AM (#28249491) Journal

    basically a PC-resident IP blocker that gets regular updates of banned sites from a central government site.

    That's not what I read in the article, I read that the founder of Jinhui Computer System Engineering (Mr. Zhang) said:

    Mr Zhang said his company now compiles and maintains the list of blocked sites, which he says is currently limited to pornography sites. But the software makes it possible to restrict other sites.

    So the company seems to be maintaining that list of sites ... if it's coming from the government why wouldn't they say? China hasn't been too shy of saying it's in control of other things. Why that level of abstraction unless the Chinese government just wants all computers to have the option of being green?

    Interesting to note that might be blown out of proportion as it's unclear how this software works or if it's activated by default. The reason I say that is this line from the article:

    the Green Dam software can be turned off if parents want to access blocked sites, and that the program can be uninstalled. Users who want to remove it need a password that they set when the software is installed, a precaution he said is aimed at preventing children from disabling the software.

    And also:

    The notice says the software must either be preinstalled on the hard drive or enclosed on a compact disc.

    So it's ok if I burn this to a compact disc and include it with a netbook that has no compact disc drive? And I am not required to install that on the computer?

    It seems that there are ways around this for both the producers and consumers and that this is just the trend of China being Nanny State China.

  • It figures that chinese dissidents will still be able to get around censorship filters for a while before the communist regime learns how most basic filters can be dodged with search terms like "pr0n" and "1337 h4xx0rz".

    No. Chinese "dissidents" looking to remove this filter need only uninstall it or disable it with the password they set when the software is installed.

    I don't think you understand how this software works in even the most basic sense, it bans IPs. It doesn't ban searches for terms spelled correctly or incorrectly, it bans IPs. The hackers can call their sites whatever they want. They will just be added to the list of numbers sooner or later anyway. The best thing they could do to avoid being on the list is just continually change their IP addresses.

    I wouldn't be surprised, however, to learn of Chinese kids implementing proxies on machines without the software to access whatever they want.

  • by Krneki (1192201) on Monday June 08, 2009 @07:52AM (#28249755)
    You could argue that it looks like a government solution for PC security. Yes, it can be abused, but if you implement it properly with the consent of the user I don't see any problem with it.

    Anyway, isn't easier to create this filter on ISP level? Like a security package that you can choose.

    Of course the devil is in the details, but there is no reason to start bashing China for this type of approach.
  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Monday June 08, 2009 @08:06AM (#28249885) Homepage Journal

    You understand what communism in any form is, right?

    The state controls commerce and corporations.

    You don't understand what communism is. What you describe is socialism.

    Communism is where the means of production are owned by the state. In socialism, the means of production are controlled (regulated) by the state. What China has is not actually communism, it's socialism.

    Capitalism is where the free market regulates itself, with limited controls by the government.

    Most industrial societies, China, the U.S. and the E.U. included, are actually hybrids between capitalism and socialism, the main differences revolving around how much the system leans towards capitalism vs. socialism.

    BTW, the U.S. hasn't had true capitalism since the 1930s.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Monday June 08, 2009 @08:06AM (#28249899) Homepage

    Right. The term he wants is "state socialism".

  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Monday June 08, 2009 @08:06AM (#28249903)

    You understand what communism in any form is, right? The state controls commerce and corporations.

    Actually, no. Marx's Communism is an economic model that gives workers control over their "labor value"; rather than allow capitalists to buy labor (via wages) and make a profit on the difference between inputs costs and output revenue. Central control is not a necessary tenant for that; a commune would be a more realistic model for a Marxian society.

    Amongst communism's many failings was that it was used as a guise to assert state control over a population. Political leaders repalced capitalists as the decision making body.

  • Re:More propaganda (Score:3, Informative)

    by moz25 (262020) on Monday June 08, 2009 @08:11AM (#28249957) Homepage

    Yes, it's just you. You are not pointing out factual errors in the article, just complaining that there is a report of something you apparently agree is rather negative. How about complaining that the unelected politicians over there commit to this behavior?

    Exactly why are you trying to compare China with the free(er) world? They are entirely different situations when it comes to control of information. The very fact that you can say "wow, this is all propaganda" without fearing that knock on your door already contradicts what you're trying to say.

    The Chinese government has an elaborate system in place to *control* which news media its citizens may get their information from. Criticize the state and your site gets blocked. With some bad luck, you personally get blocked as well.

    We on the other hand, can consult any news media we like. Some choose to consult the likes of Fox News, which seems to have 24/7 negative reporting on the US government (i.e. Obama). Now we may see that as pure propaganda, but we are still free to make up our minds on our own terms and *without* government intervention.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday June 08, 2009 @08:35AM (#28250181)

    You have to understand that at the level of nations, money doesn't work the same way as it does on an individual level. A more accurate statement is that the US is selling securities to China, not that China is lending money to the US. While there are similarities, there are differences too.

    One difference is that the US will sell securities to anyone interested, they are sold on an open market. It isn't a case of them going to China and saying "Please buy our treasury notes." Rather the notes are offered for sale, and anyone who wants them can buy them.

    So, what happens if China stops buying? Well then the government is going to have to raise interest rates on their securities to keep them moving. The higher the interest the, well higher the amount of interested parties. That would mean the US would have to pay out more money ultimately, but it isn't as though it isn't a legit option. China isn't the only buyer out there, they aren't even the biggest buyer (the US government itself holds the most government debt almost 50%, US mutual funds follow after that is China). So while the loss of China as a buyer would necessitate either selling less (meaning cutting spending or raising taxes) or increasing the yield, it wouldn't lead to the securities stopping.

    Then you have the other factor that these securities only have value because the US government says they do. They are a promise to pay sort of thing. The specifics vary (like if they pay periodic interest or a lump sum) but the general idea is it is just the government saying "We promise to pay you this many US dollars at a given time." That also means the government has the power to not pay. Now doing so arbitrarily would have severe repercussions, however in the event of China attempting to directly force changes in US law, well then it might not. Basically if the US can find a justification that makes the rest of its large note holders (like Japan, who is right after China) happy, then maybe they can freeze or null China's holdings. China attempts to force the US to adopt unconstitutional laws, threatening economic attack, the US responds in kind with an economic attack.

    Thus China can't just take the "You do as I say or I screw you," attitude, because the US has the ability to screw them too. Those securities are good only so long as the US government decides they are.

    Finally there's always the possibility of large scale, possibly hyper, inflation. All the US securities are payable in US dollars. So, the US lacks the dollars to pay? Well they just print more dollars. That again has consequences, see Zimbabwe for what extreme hyperinflation does. However, it is an option if backed in to a corner and more so in the US since the US dollar is the world's reserve currency. This would also screw China over since as there are more dollars out there, each is worth less thus their securities are worth less. If you have a note that pays 5% per year for 10 years, and there's 20% per year inflation for those 10 years, you lost a lot of money on that instrument.

    What I'm getting at is that it isn't a simple situation. It isn't like you walking to the bank and asking for a loan. The US doesn't go to China begging for cash. China buys US debt for various reasons, not the least of which that so far it has been an extremely safe investment (the US has never defaulted on payment). They might stop buying as much, or buying any, if they feel it doesn't make economic sense, but trying to use it to threaten political change would be a really bad idea. They could easily find themselves with a bunch of worthless paper on their hands.

It's a naive, domestic operating system without any breeding, but I think you'll be amused by its presumption.

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