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Censorship Government The Internet News

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 CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Monday June 08, 2009 @08:19AM (#28249519) Homepage

    I imagine things will stay pretty much the same as they always have, even if the censorship is moving from the Great Firewall of China to the PC. Before, if you were an expat or a clued-up local, you would just install Tor on your PC. Now you would just wipe the hard drive and install your OS of choice from a trustworthy CD. The Chinese government can be happy that the vast majority of people will not seek to get around the blocks, and the intelligentsia will find it easy to get the information they want. It seems like a win for both sides.

    I would caution, however, against vilifying China too much in this regard. Even much of the Chinese intelligentsia believes that their country needs a brutal government to avoid total chaos. Often the very Chinese you think would be rebelling against measures like this--people who read foreign news and travel or even reside abroad--think it necessary for the health of their country. Moments like this do lead one to question if American notions of freedom are truly applicable to every country.

  • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Monday June 08, 2009 @08:29AM (#28249599) Homepage

    This is just more bullshit "orders from the top" that won't affect anything.

    I bought a laptop from a large, reputable chain and after handing over the cash they still whipped out the white-label CDR with sharpie written "Windows XP Chinese edition".
    Had to decline because it would have been a serious waste of 45 min.

  • by MoldySpore (1280634) on Monday June 08, 2009 @08:32AM (#28249623)

    China is the country that the USA keeps borrowing money from...wonder how long it will be before we start noticing some policy changes to our internet? What would the US government do if the Chinese government demanded we censor our internet the same way they are, or they won't let us borrow anymore money?

    A slippery slope, indeed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 08, 2009 @08:52AM (#28249759)

    I would like to see some analysis of the software, i.e. decompilation and other reverse engineering. That's likely the only *true* way to find out what's its doing...

    I'm interested in the technical details, like will running it inside a dedicated virtual machine or otherwise sandboxed meet the requirements of the "rule"? Speaking of, will the "rule" ever be truly be available publicly? (Like on-the-internet publicly, not must-show-up-in-person-at-Communist-Party-Headquarters-and-turn-over-your-passport publicly, because we know how they run things in Commie China.)

  • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Monday June 08, 2009 @09:10AM (#28249951)

    China is the country that the USA keeps borrowing money from...wonder how long it will be before we start noticing some policy changes to our internet? What would the US government do if the Chinese government demanded we censor our internet the same way they are, or they won't let us borrow anymore money?

    A slippery slope, indeed.

    In the end, the political calculus is:

    Which side is willing to endure the most pain?

    The US could just as easily refuse to honor the Chinese debt; or massively devalue the dollar and wipe it out. Not good options, but both sides have power in this situation.

  • AS IF!!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hengdi (1202709) on Monday June 08, 2009 @09:10AM (#28249955)

    I live in China. This will not happen.

    The very idea that you must even sell each computer with said software on it is a non-starter. The rule of law here is very thin; if you don't annoy the govt. you can pretty much do what you like.

    I bought a computer today from the flea market that is Harbin's main computer store (the infamous downstairs section, for those of you living here). This is a zero-regulated place where the very idea of mandating computer software is laughable.

    It's like a few weeks ago when there was an article about mandating Red Flag Linux in cybercafes. This place is very capitalist and such measures simply won't even be enacted, let alone enforced.

    Even the Chinese government know this. From TFA:

    "The software must either be preinstalled on the hard drive or enclosed on a compact disc"

    So at the very best, it'll be a CD thrown away when new machines are purchased.

  • Re:Old news (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Quantumstate (1295210) on Monday June 08, 2009 @09:14AM (#28249989)

    My school has a website blocking system and interestingly enough they have blocked the wikipedia page on 1984 (Both the year and the novel). The IT technician apparently hadn't read the book so he rather missed the situation when we mentioned it.

  • by JordanL (886154) <jordan.ledoux@gm a i l . com> on Monday June 08, 2009 @09:16AM (#28250015) Homepage
    It seems people here can't understand the difference between reality and sophism.

    The only true examples of Marx's Communism I can think of are certain tribes of Native Americans. And I never said the US has true capitalism, nor that China is true Communism.

    People here jump at the opportunity to tell someone how simplified their argument is, instead of actually considering the content of the argument itself. I guess that's common among all us nerds though.
  • by Tanktalus (794810) on Monday June 08, 2009 @09:49AM (#28250349) Journal

    There are people who mistake their beliefs for who they are. This is, in my view, understandable when those beliefs surround an ethical system that they act on, but sorely mistaken when it's something to do with something they have nothing to do with, e.g., who is going to win the Stanley Cup or the World Cup, or the state of the political system in a country they don't belong to, nevermind participate in. There's no "objective" anything to these folks, don't waste your time.

    Then there are just trolls. These people like telling you things on the internet that they'd never say to you in person. They probably got beat up on the playground a lot. Don't feed them.

    This has been a public service announcement, paid for by ... hell, I wish I was getting paid for this. *sigh*

  • by zwei2stein (782480) on Monday June 08, 2009 @10:05AM (#28250537) Homepage

    More detailed:

    In capitalism, worker is basically supplier company with contract that gives it certain privileges. Wage is just payment for his services.

    In communism, worker owns share in company and invests to it with his work. His wage is share of profit.

    Pretty much anyone who owns shares of company he works in can be considered communist :)

  • by Aceticon (140883) on Monday June 08, 2009 @11:37AM (#28251631)

    Actually if I remember my high-school classes on History right, what's practiced in the so called Communist countries is not actually communism (which is an idealistic utopia where everybody is equal) but instead the "dictatorship of the proletariat" when by force the proletariat (basically, the workers) take over the means of production as a step towards communism.

    This was the way to achieve communism which was defended by Marx (and Lenin).

    The other way (Socialism), which was defended by Engels involves using methods such as higher taxes for the rich to move toward a society where everybody is equal (e.g. communism).

    All of the so called Communist countries were the product of revolutions by workers (the proletariat), with the stated (by the leaders) aim of establishing a dictatorship of the proletariat and creating a communist state. Without exception they all became communist in name only, remained in the dictatorship stage and create a new elite (same shit, different flies) where the interests of the proletariat where replaced by the interests of the communist part as the main guideline.

    Interestingly enough, things like progressive taxation and social protections (the so called "social net" such as unemployment benefits and free health-care) which come from the Socialist ideals live on in most of Western Europe (even though Socialist parties in Europe have long ditched the aim of going towards a communist state).

  • by plasticsquirrel (637166) on Monday June 08, 2009 @11:40AM (#28251663)

    Moments like this do lead one to question if American notions of freedom are truly applicable to every country.

    The following is from a book called Understanding This Chinese Generation, by Nan Huaijin, a very famous Confucian scholar and Buddhist master in China. Not only does it discuss this subject of American-style democracy being wrong for Chinese culture, but it also exposes a keen understanding of the U.S. government's inseparable ties to powerful economic forces. Intelligent and educated Chinese actually have a very sober view of the American system that is difficult to get from within it. This book was written years ago as well, so it is all the more impressive and prescient. We seldom hear the views of educated and intelligent Chinese, so /.'ers would do well to read this and understand his perspective.

    Four years back I had a series of conversations with an American graduate student studying in China. Our discussions, which he transcribed and planned on translating into English, focused on issues relating to Western and Chinese culture. On one occasion, when the issue of freedom and democracy came up, I remarked, "In our modern era America alone carries the flag of Western cultural glory, championing democracy and freedom. But what Americans like to call democracy and freedom is actually the 'American style of democracy and freedom.' Although this style is by no means suitable for most other people and places, it is especially inappropriate for the five thousand year old culture of China. However, not only do Americans not understand this fact, but you also refuse to even consider its possibility. So your good intentions and American style of democracy and freedom are matched by an equally powerful response of antipathy wherever they turn up."

    "What exactly do you mean when you say the American style of democracy and freedom," he asked. I replied, "The answer requires quite a complex discussion of two hundred years of contributing factors, from the founding of your country to the present. To summarize though, from the eighteenth century to the present, as America's forefathers flocked to the New World, they carried with them the culture of the European industrial revolution. However, coming from many different countries such as England, France, Germany, and Austria they carried with them the unique cultural perspectives of their individual ethnic backgrounds. These perspectives, combined with an ideological inclination toward the promotion of the general welfare, helped form the spiritual foundation of your nation â" 'of the people, by the people, and for the people.' However, regardless of what shape it assumes, hiding in the framework of liberalism and democracy has been the secret ingredient of the market forces that drive industry and commerce. This was true at the birth of your nation, and after two hundred years remains true to this very day. To be honest, the behind-the-scenes bosses who actually manage your democratic politics are inseparable from the capitalist and commercial industrial complex which surrounds them. Yes its true! Even today, America's territorial ambitions abroad have been quite limited. However, the same thing cannot be said of your desire to occupy foreign markets. This hidden agenda, when added to the tangle of your democratic politics and an unsophisticated provincial populace, has resulted in hesitation, inconsistency, and fence-sitting on the international scene. If you really want to live up to your superpower status, you must combine your international political experience with an in-depth study of the Chinese classic The Spring And Autumn Annals. Only then will you grasp the righteous principle of 'restoring the nation and insuring its posterity.'" Having returned home, today this American colleague has begun teaching The Spring and Autumn Annals and its related commentaries at Harvard University.

    There is also an interesting passage abo

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:26PM (#28252169)

    "Power to Big Brother" is never a popular meme (unless Big Brother is portrayed as the lessor of two evils).

    Odd you should mention this, as crazy as it sounds to Westerners, China has got to be one of the closest to "Power to Big Brother" countries on the planet. It may be they view it as a lesser evil, but in interview after interview it really appears most Chinese think the state (read society) should moderate personal action (they usually use a term that sounds a lot like social harmony to my ears). I am sure there is a great diversity of opinion in China, but you can really tell you are in a different culture.

    It could be Chinese think of this like a V-chip for the internet. While the V-chip was promoted in the US as "empowering parents" (of course, he who controls the rating process would have tremendous power) in China it might just not occur that the state (read society) should not make the judgments.

  • by Anne Thwacks (531696) on Monday June 08, 2009 @12:34PM (#28252259)
    Under capitalism, Man exploits man - under communism, its the otherway round!

    Under communism, the state owns "the means of production". According to Marx, one of the four "means of production" is Labour - the people. Thus, under communism, the state owns the people. Owning people is called "slavery".

    I am A Marxist of the Groucho faction

  • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Monday June 08, 2009 @01:33PM (#28253149) Homepage Journal

    I don't know whether it is or not, but it's clear that you have misconceptions about the Chinese system of government. Not all companies in China are, in fact, run by the Chinese government.

    Now you are correct in saying that Xinhua is a mouthpiece of the government of the People's Republic of China. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the article is lying about the Green Dam software, which you seem to imply. Xinhua journalists are indoctrinated to give the official view of the Chinese Communist Party, but that doesn't mean they have to lie about the particulars of a piece of software. They might, but really I don't have any reason to suspect that they would be in this case.

    American journalists are similarly "indoctrinated" in the U.S.; it's just done in a far more insidious manner. U.S. reporters do not lie or make up facts, but they are biased towards official points of the Democratic and Republican parties, which are not, in fact, very different. It's not very much different in China.

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