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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) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Monday June 08, 2009 @08:15AM (#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.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by JordanL (886154)
      You understand what communism in any form is, right?

      The state controls commerce and corporations.

      Xinhua is a "private" news company... owned by the Chinese government. Its ingenious really, because "public" implies some sort of transparency. The Chinese government is very fond of the federal government privately owning corporations... you have the same level of control and no specter of transparency or oversight.
      • by Jawn98685 (687784) on Monday June 08, 2009 @08:30AM (#28249603)
        You are confusing communism with some form (several, actually) of government. A common mistake, but a mistake nonetheless.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by John Hasler (414242)

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

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            "The state controls commerce and corporations" is not the core idea of socialism. The core idea is "power to the people"; state control just inevitably follows from such ideals.

            On the other hand, socialist ideals dictate that the state and the people should be as near the same thing as they can reasonably get, which hasn't really ever been properly implemented in any country loudly proclaiming itself socialist.

            • by wisty (1335733) on Monday June 08, 2009 @10:27AM (#28250789)

              Socialism is state owned "means of production" - the state owns the industry.

              Communism is the next logical step - everything is communally owned.

              "Power to the people" is not exclusive to Marxism. It's also in most humanist systems. Democracy is "political power to the people", and it predates Marx by quite a few years. Epicurus and a number of other Greeks had some thoughts on it as well. Lots of Renaissance thinkers, Luther (who broke away from the Catholic church, in part to bring religious power to the people), and quite a few others.

              Libertarians and Ayn Randists will also declare that their goal is "power to the people", and they aren't communists by any stretch of the imagination.

              "Power to the people through the common ownership of economic assets" is communism. But of course, everyone wants to take the moral high ground and say they are the only one standing up for the little man. "Power to Big Brother" is never a popular meme (unless Big Brother is portrayed as the lessor of two evils).

              • Libertarians and Ayn Randists will also declare that their goal is "power to the people", and they aren't communists by any stretch of the imagination.

                Their "power to the people" is just a demagogic smokescreen to hide the fact that, like any right-wing political party, they really mean " power to the more powerful people/croporations ", which has been the norm for unevolved societies throughout History.

                • by bnenning (58349)

                  Their "power to the people" is just a demagogic smokescreen to hide the fact that, like any right-wing political party, they really mean " power to the more powerful people/croporations ", which has been the norm for unevolved societies throughout History.

                  Take a look at who's handing hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to politically connected corporations these days. Hint: not libertarians.

                • by alexo (9335)

                  Libertarians and Ayn Randists will also declare that their goal is "power to the people", and they aren't communists by any stretch of the imagination.

                  Their "power to the people" is just a demagogic smokescreen to hide the fact that, like any right-wing political party, they really mean " power to the more powerful people/croporations ", which has been the norm for unevolved societies throughout History.

                  Please name one current instance of an "evolved" society in which this is not de facto the case.

              • Democracy was implemented long, long ago already, by the romans - though it was only open to the male Citizens of Rome, it was a true democracy.

      • by morgan_greywolf (835522) on Monday June 08, 2009 @09:06AM (#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.

        • 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.
          • It seems people here can't understand the difference between reality and sophism.

            Slashdot != Reality

            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.

            It's just more fun being contradictory. Where's the sport in simply agreeing with what you're saying?

            • by JordanL (886154)

              Where's the sport in simply agreeing with what you're saying?

              Well I don't agree with that.

              (Is praying for the +1 Funny mods.... ) ;)

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            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,

      • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Monday June 08, 2009 @09:06AM (#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: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by zwei2stein (782480)

          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).

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anne Thwacks (531696)
          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

          • 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".

            Actually, if you reread Marx he has a bit different slany - and teh state does not own the means of production

            I am A Marxist of the Groucho faction

            That's OK, I'm a Leninist of the John faction. All hail Marx and Lenin (sounds like a good album)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You said;

      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.

      This is a very major problem. I don't know why you used the word just. This is a very disturbing trend that started with the Great Firewall of China.

      It's sad and pathetic that foreign governments don't mind this censorship as long as it coincides with their own politically correct tastes:

      ...says a foreign industry official familiar with the plan. "I don't think anyone would oppose the (government's) stated objective" of blocking pornographic and violent content, "but people are really concerned about the way it's being implemented," he said.

      Like the article you posted earlier on "rape-ware" games, it appears that people are more than willing to censor if there are scape-goat exceptions in the witch-hunting memes of their censorship. Of course all of

    • by westlake (615356)

      this is just the trend of China being Nanny State China.

      Trend?

      What trend?

      China has a tradition of centralized - intrusive - bureaucratic - government that goes back over 2,000 years.

  • 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".
    • 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 shentino (1139071)

        Or the chinese government could just mandate TPM and make it technologically impossible to bypass...

        They probably already make it a serious offense to disable it anyway.

  • Old news (Score:4, Funny)

    by should_be_linear (779431) on Monday June 08, 2009 @08:17AM (#28249503)
    This was news back in 1984.
    • 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.

  • 3 .... 2.... 1....

    Seriously, isn't this like the dutch boy with his finger in the dike (no, not dyke, get yer minds outta the gutter).

    What I mean is that many forms of DRM are hacked within days or weeks of release. I cannot imagine a concerted effort of Chinese hackers or those in sympathy with the Chinese people, would not be able to bypass this and publish, even via sneakernet, a hack around it.

    • I cannot imagine a concerted effort of Chinese hackers or those in sympathy with the Chinese people

      As I wrote in another comment here, I suspect the Chinese people are generally in favour of censorship. Though people in the West may want to paint the Chinese masses as a suffering people yearning to break free of the yoke of oppressive government, such a portrayal may not stand up to facts. Indeed, just last week in the International Herald Tribune (the international version of the New York Times) there was an article about how Chinese students nowadays think Tiananmen-square style civic commitment needs to be nipped in the bud, because it would threaten China's economic development that is making them very happy.

      • Though people in the West may want to paint the Chinese masses as a suffering people yearning to break free of the yoke of oppressive government, such a portrayal may not stand up to facts. Indeed, just last week in the International Herald Tribune (the international version of the New York Times) there was an article about how Chinese students nowadays think Tiananmen-square style civic commitment needs to be nipped in the bud, because it would threaten China's economic development that is making them very happy.

        That's pretty much true everywhere - as long as people feel they're getting their share and not directly repressed they pretty much don't care what type of government they have.

      • by T Murphy (1054674) on Monday June 08, 2009 @11:04AM (#28251219) Journal
        As far as I've heard, the sentiment in China is that democracy is too weak and leads to civil unrest, so the authoritarian rule is accepted as a needed form of government. I completely agree with you that the average Chinese person is content without democracy or what we see as basic rights. I am afraid, though, that the comparison in their mind is a choice of a stable authoritarian rule, or an unstable democracy. I would be curious what the general opinion would be if they were guaranteed equal stability with either form of government.
        • Nope. That's not the sentiment I have heard while I was in China. The people there actually like the idea of democracy and most of them have an over-idealistic view of the American democracy (like they don't quite grasp all those special interest influence and political contributions,) but they are afraid of any political movements as they still have bad memory of the cultural revolution. Big social changes only happen if it is driven by a big social movements.

          Also the current main Chinese belief is pragmat

        • by Kaiwen (123401)
          "I would be curious what the general opinion would be if they were guaranteed equal stability with either form of government."

          And how do you guarantee that? Having lived in numerous countries around the world, I'd argue that, if stability is your meter-stick, authoritarian regimes win hands down. By far the most unstable countries I've lived in -- democracies all -- were in central Africa; in Zaire, for example, the people lived in abject terror of the military. I'm personally of the opinion that stable d

    • The Chinese government has long since figured out that it doesn't matter if a tiny number of geeks can get around their censorship as long as they can impose it on most of the population. And they can and do.

    • by dave420 (699308)
      A hack around it? How about clicking 'Uninstall' - it has that feature, you know.
      • by Kaiwen (123401)
        "it has that feature, you know."

        It's its current iteration, at least.

        The grandparent post is correct. The Great Firewall, dubbed the most sophisticated of its kind in the world, is easily circumvented by anyone who knows how to spell "anonymous proxy" or, barring that, "Tor". IP-banning software, even if it's mandated in the future, will be no different. The operative word here is won't, not can't, and the point is the vast majority of Chinese netizens won't bother circumventing it, even if they know th

  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sakdoctor (1087155)

      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.

    • 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.

      If you don't subscribe to the idea that China is one monolithic country but rather a collection of differing groups bound together by a strong central government (such as the old USSR); then the "chaos" would be a natural breakup into separate nations.

    • by imgod2u (812837)

      The U.S. notion of freedom doesn't even apply to the U.S. See Patriot Act and the recent changes to FISA. See the DMCA. See the Bush (and now Obama) administration.

      While I truly believe in the ideals of democracy and civil rights, there have always been times when practicality has been opposed to it. Of course, an authoritarian government cannot sustain itself (see USSR, China pre-capitalist expansion, Cuba, etc.) economically, so eventually the government will have to let the reigns loose if it wants to pr

    • by Pig Hogger (10379)

      Even much of the Chinese intelligentsia believes that their country needs a brutal government to avoid total chaos.

      The chinese have, indeed, a passion for disorganization. The term "clusterfuck", abbreviated C.F. is actually the politicall-correct version of the original meaning of C.F., which was "chinese firedrill".

      The current communist régime is fighting very hard to rid China of it's historical demons that made it stagnate for so long (how else a billion people strong nati

      • Comparatively harmless. Tibet not included. Western Turkestan not include. Falun Gong not included. Tien-a-men not included. Aggression against Taiwan not included. Anyone who actually wants to access the Internet not included.

        No, the only grief you care about, is when JEWS are involved.

        Don't try to pass off antisemetism as some sort of insight in global politics. The "grief and destruction" supposedly surrounding Israel is a result of it being a useful anti-Western rallying cry for Arabs and Muslims in the

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      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 writt

    • 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.

      Why would I expect the privileged class to rock the boat? They're the ones who benefit from the status quo, not the hundreds of millions of rural poor or the conquered peoples who never wanted anything to do with Beijing.

      • by Kaiwen (123401)
        "Why would I expect the privileged class to rock the boat?"

        Interesting. This has been precisely the argument coming from Western China experts for the past quarter century -- the view that as China develops economically, the people (i.e., the "privileged class") benefiting the most would begin to demand equal amounts of political power. Now you argue it'll lead to a population of sheep. Which is, not incidentally, what most Americans seem to believe the Chinese people are now.

        "the hundreds of millions o

        • by Kaseijin (766041)

          Now you argue it'll lead to a population of sheep. Which is, not incidentally, what most Americans seem to believe the Chinese people are now.

          Not at all. I argue that people act to protect what they have, and Chinese people are no exception.

          "the hundreds of millions of rural poor ... who never wanted anything to do with Beijing"

          I wrote, "the hundreds of millions of rural poor or the conquered peoples who never wanted anything to do with Beijing". The second "the" marks a separate phrase.

          The fact is China has experienced near miraculous economic growth over the past thirty years.

          Your own source notes that the fruits of this expansion have been distributed unequally and that government policies have exacerbated the situation.

          As to the "rural poor", according to the latest World Bank numbers China's poverty rate plummeted from 69% in 1978, to 10% in 2004 -- significantly lower than the US's usual 12 to 17%.

          I would rather discuss China as China, but I would be remiss not to point out that the US government's

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      Sure, you can wipe the PC and go on your merry way ( unless TPM is in place ), but don't count on getting online. It would be trivial to require this 'monitor' to be wedged in down in your IP stack before you can connect to an ISP ( sort of like how AOL and NetZero did it ).

      Even worse, if you try it, the ISP might report you to the government as an attempt to 'circumvent'.

    • by Kaiwen (123401)
      "I imagine things will stay pretty much the same ... . Before ... 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."

      Agreed, in part. However, as others have argued, technologically there is nothing preventing the government from, say, forcing the software into the IP stack, or requiring ISPs to incorporate it into the software suite they already install on customer PCs ("You need this to access the Internet" is all your frien

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...or that means Linux is officially banned in China

    • Ever heard of Red Flag Linux? I'd expect them to they eventually made it compatible, or even have it pre-installed.

  • I doubt it.

    only runs on windows - probably

    another bottom feeder trying to get a juicy govt contract - probably

    will it work - of course not
  • There's only one way to do that, and installing censorware on every PC in the country *isn't* it.

    • Cleaning up their Industry might help.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Rogerborg (306625)
        Well, it's their fault. If they'd just lend us more money, we could afford to "pay" them more for their products, and then they could spend "our" money on cleaning up their processes.
  • More propaganda (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Maybe it's just me but it seems like there is around-the-clock negative news coverage of China from western media outlets. When was the last time you read a positive news article about China? I think we feed our people just as much propaganda as the Chinese government does, if not more.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by moz25 (262020)

      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 alre

      • by imgod2u (812837)

        Since when has "propaganda" meant "sole news source enforced by the government"? Last I checked, it simply meant an unfair advertisement in which data was either excluded, made up, or presented in such a form as to support one point of view.

        Yes, the U.S. is miles ahead of the Chinese media in that there is still a free (for purchase) press. That doesn't take away from the fact that they all seem to like to report on the negative actions of the Chinese government (and there are many). Now, this may very well

        • by PRMan (959735)

          I've always viewed the press as a 4th branch of government. Its purpose should not be to report what brings in money; it should be reporting as much of the facts as it can get its hands on. In that, our current media has failed.

          Actually, compared to Congress and the Whitehouse, I'd say it's doing better. The Supreme Court has been decent (note I didn't say great) lately, though.

        • by moz25 (262020)

          Dude, you're not sane in your head.

          If you've been on this website for longer than a few days, you will notice that any pro-censorship effort by *any* government gets a lot of negative commentary.

          There were several articles about Australian government sucking because they tried state-mandated censorship (for the children of course), there were tons of articles in the YRO category criticizing the US government (voting machines sucking, Bush sucking, Obama maybe being too pro-copyright, etc).

          Exactly why should

    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      Last entirely positive news? Must've been when they bought our (German) monorail tech. It s been a couple of years, though.
  • 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 patro (104336)

      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.

      If they don't let the US borrow more money then the US won't be able to pay interest for the existing debts, so that's a double edged sword.

    • by Krneki (1192201)
      You could do the same as Pirate Bay. USA here -> o , China over there -------> O. My laws here, yours there.
    • Meh. China doesn't sponsor US politicians. Corporations do. China doesn't legitimize their positions. US citizens do. So how would China influence US policy? They wouldn't. And besides there are worse influences here at home to worry about.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      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.

    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Monday June 08, 2009 @09:35AM (#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.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      While i agree, think beyond that: Think WTO/UN and the whole world slowly becoming a monitored nanny-state.

  • by Krneki (1192201) on Monday June 08, 2009 @08:52AM (#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.
    • ...Except for a few facts. This is being done not just by a government, but one of the most oppressive, authoritarian, and anti-freedom governments on the face of the earth.

      If there is one thing worse than not having an anti-virus (on a Windows box at least) its having a bad or outdated one.

      The problem with blocking things like this on the ISP level with malware and such is censorship. Assuming a normal policy of "we aren't going to review or fix this" will lead to, in time many legitimate websites be
  • 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.

  • by Fuzi719 (1107665) on Monday June 08, 2009 @09:39AM (#28250215)
    What about local and state governments right here in the USA that have required the same thing on computers used by "the children" ("Think of the children!")? How about even attempts by federal legislators to do the same thing? People who spout off the typical "those horrible Chinese!" lines usually neglect to see the very similar tactics used right here in the good ol' USA. And the US media typically fails to report what happens here, but readily paints a negative picture of life in China.
  • The Chinese people don't think of their government as a separate and distinct entity. For them the government is like the air--it just is. This IP-filtering thing won't cause an uproar there and in fact most Chinese will probably welcome it (or meet it with indifference).

    The Western world consistently misunderstands the relationship that the Chinese people have with their government. It isn't at all like Western style governing where there is constant strife and eternal vigilance against the governmen
  • ..because net-nanny software is ALWAYS so damned successful at what it does, and there's absolutely NO way to circumvent it or uninstall it, right? I'll just be over here, laughing my ass off while China learns the hard way what the rest of the world already knows: it doesn't work.
  • The mandate is that the software is provided free with the system, not that users actually use it. It doesn't even have to be pre-installed, it's OK to have it provided on a CD.

  • If they really want to block these sites, cant they just add some more firewall rules to the great firewall of china like they do for all the other "subversive" sites?

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