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China Ditches Compulsory Green Dam Plans 76

scrubl writes "China has ditched plans to force foreign and domestic computer manufacturers to install internet filtering technology in computers sold inside its borders. The Chinese government paid $5.85m to develop the software called Green Dam and claimed it was being installed to stop access to porn on computers and protect children. China's industry and information technology minister Li Yizhong said that manufacturers, Internet users, and organisations opposed to the plans had received the wrong message from his department and that installation was never planned to be compulsory."
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China Ditches Compulsory Green Dam Plans

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  • Received the wrong message...hah...
    • by A. B3ttik ( 1344591 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:43AM (#29053205)
      Sure it's not compulsory, but if you don't install it the government will break your knees.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by vintagepc ( 1388833 )
      How convenient... We just misunderstood. This had nothing to do with any public outcries whatsoever!
      I don't think it would have done much good though- Kids tend to be more tech-savvy than the previous generation... and if my school's filter, and students/friends were anything to go by, it will be a minor annoyance for any kid that wants to access a blocked site.
      You simply cannot win the censorship war.
      • by Professor_UNIX ( 867045 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:56AM (#29053391)

        What we really need is an open source project to create a newer, better filter so that China can protect its children from porn and smut. If everyone in the open source community worked together I bet we could come up with a much better product that is more cross platform than the over-priced crap they tried to implement.

        • by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @12:17PM (#29053665) Homepage

          What we really need as a deterrent is open education for the kids about porn. When they hit 6th grade (or whatever age they teach birds-and-bees over there), have an afternoon dedicated to Pornography Education. Explain what it is and show it to them (of course with a parents consent). Bring out a computer and a big screen and throw up lemonparty, goatse, 2girls1cup, the BME pain olympics, and whatever is on the front page of efukt that day. Explain that they've just seen the best that pornography has to offer and that the government is trying to protect them from that.

          (Also, maybe check the guys for pitched tents afterword. If anybody's sporting wood, they're obviously a threat to a healthy society and need some time in 're-education camp'.)

          • by Moryath ( 553296 )

            China's industry and information technology minister

            Why do I see the words "information minister" in there and shudder?

            Seriously - they say this now, then they'll make it compulsory again (if the official CHINESE-LANGUAGE documentation has even been changed) once it blows over and they think nobody's watching.

            I really hope the rest of your post was a joke, too. Chinese society is fucked up enough as it is.

          • And how is that "open"? Seems deceitful to me...
            Mind you, we did have a discussion on shock therapy for internet addiction, and your method was pointed out as a cure....
          • Is it good or bad that both of the below statements are true for me?

            1) I have no earthly idea what any of the terms you posted even mean, and I'm not about to research them (especially not at work, but even at home I'm just not that curious).


            2) I got your sig reference immediately.

            But I can mix memes: I suspect if I were to be exposed to any of the subjects of those terms, I'd suddenly become Kryten, making little "memememe" noises while in utter shock before my head exploded. I'm referring to the hea

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Hal_Porter ( 817932 )

        > You simply cannot win the censorship war.

        I dunno about that. The Chinese government has won the censorship war for most of the last twenty years. If people are scared enough that they self censor, the government wins. Of course this is not something you can do technologically - you pretty much need to run people over with tanks, ship them off to camps and the like. But it's sadly it is naive to say that government can't win if they are ruthless enought.

        • Well, yes. You do raise a good point. My main perspective was the technological one though... As we see/have seen with DRM, no matter what they come up with, someone, somewhere knows how to break it.
    • Yes, they received notification at all that this was in negotiations which was, by China's definition, inherently wrong. The citizens weren't supposed to hear about this after all..... It just means it'll wait 6months and all of a sudden be a great idea again. I wonder what was actually involved in this development, it seems anything that can be installed can be removed so how do you track who removed it before connecting to the internet?
  • The Chinese government paid $5.85m to develop the software called Green Dam and claimed it was being installed to stop access to porn on computers and protect children

    And here I thought that argument was limited to politicians in democracies who need to pander in order to win re-election. Good to know the Chinese are learning from our "example" :)

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:38AM (#29053097) Journal

    Section 82: Never Being Wrong

    If you're reading this, you're like me: you've never been wrong once in your life. Your average person isn't gonna know this because -- let's face it -- no shirt could hold all of the greatness of our beings so cut everyone else a slack if they don't know you. They're a big fat L7 and don't know how correct you always are.

    But we've all been there, in that situation when a convo or situ goes south. You know what I'm talking about, you've just said something that is now correct (because you said it) but you're being presented with some "irrefutable" proof that it might have been incorrect before you said it. So here's how you deal with all the chumps that wanna waste their time disagreeing with you:

    • Maintain your stance, never faulter. Ex: "I said the evil organization in Contra is Red Eagle and that's because it is. I don't know where you dreamed up Red Falcon but it's Red Eagle." PROTIP: This is getting tough to do with iPhone's and that 3G shit. Leave quickly or comment on how stupid they look now if they start to pull out their phone.
    • Tell them it's changed since they last looked at it. Ex: "Yeah, well, I just checked the international standings yesterday and Usain Bolt is no longer the fastest man alive."
    • Fabricate further evidence supporting your claim. Ex: "Well, I had a beer with Steve Jobs last night and he told me personally that there was going to be an iPhone with a hologram display."
    • Just ignore them. You listen to the only person worth listening to: yourself.
    • Tell them they heard you wrong. Ex: "I never said Green Dam was going to be mandatory, I said it was going to be optional. Jesus, you totally got the wrong memo, dude."
    • Deny you ever said it or that it ever happened. This should be used as a last case scenario as pictures, recordings and "memories" often cause people to not like you. Ex: "Nah, brah, you're wrong. Tiananmen Square never happened. I don't know where you go that photoshopped image."

    Remember, you're awesome and infallible. Never admit otherwise.

    It's a good thing Bush & Cheney let me borrow their copy to provide this excerpt, I didn't have a plane ticket to go pick up the Chinese government's copy.

    • You have no idea how wrong you are in posting this.

      All my plans, my comments, my years of dedication to this site building up my ego RUINED. Thanks a lot, jerk.

  • by happy_place ( 632005 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:38AM (#29053099) Homepage
    It was never compulsory, just required, mandatory, obligatory...
    • "It was never compulsory. It's only necessary if you don't want a death squad to stop by and make you have your 'last dance' with your musical accompaniment being a machine gun and your partner being some rounds of ammo. The kind of partner that sticks with you for life. The decision is, of course, completely up to you. We'll have a crew stop by to install the software or the bullets, your choice."

  • by CopaceticOpus ( 965603 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:40AM (#29053145)

    I had a feeling those Dam plans were going to be trouble.

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Hi, I'll be your Dam Guide for the day. To begin your dam tour, just step right this way. Behind this door are the dam generators..."

      • by gnick ( 1211984 )

        Behind this door are the dam generators..."

        All that's Behind the Green Door are a bunch of green damn generators?!? The movies have seriously mislead me...

    • I had a feeling those Dam plans were going to be trouble.

      I blame the Dam engineers.

      • I had a feeling those Dam plans were going to be trouble.

        I blame the Dam engineers.

        But you should take all the Dam pictures you want.

  • It was never required to be compulsory... oh, and we've always been at war with Eastasia.

    While there are a lot of Chinese women on there, they are mostly Americanized Chinese, so it's not like the pristine virgins of the Chinese mainland are at risk of ogling eyes.

  • by FlyingSquidStudios ( 1031284 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:43AM (#29053203) Homepage
    Why this sudden change in policy. Obviously, their claim of a misunderstanding is unbelievable, but what did make them change their mind about Green Dam? Does it have anything to do with the recent WTO ruling [] on easing the controls of media imports? Was it because it was too faulty? Too difficult to implement? Or is there something even more sinister at work, like a decision to install such software at the provider level instead of the individual level?
    • Actually, I'd say it's a mis-spread message than misunderstood. And it's not unbelievable. I'm not sure about what news western news/newspaper wrote on this. But on Taiwan and Mainland newspaper, at the time they just announced about the plan, the mainland government had already repeatively said that you do not have to install it. They also say even if manufacturer installed it, you can easily uninstall it. They're just thinking about forcing the manufacturers to *provide* it. They offically said that man
    • Obviously, their claim of a misunderstanding is unbelievable,

      No, it's not, since you obviously misunderstood them: all they required was that the software was available to parents, not that it be used or installed.

      but what did make them change their mind about Green Dam

      Probably the bad press they were getting from misrepresentation in the Western press.

      If people like you could only apply the same fervor to all the censorship and intrusions into our privacy in the US and Europe.

    • by sydneyfong ( 410107 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @04:08PM (#29056753) Homepage Journal

      It's not a change of policy.

      They just realized that the plan is not going to work. It's not going to work because of LEGAL problems, because the "GreenDam" software was basically a pirated copy of some already available commercial filtering software with some custom modifications.

      Imagine state sponsored mass copyright infringement -- do you think they can pull it off?

      And the software was so full of bugs that some local security professionals here in Hong Kong had the thing reverse engineered and found a few vulnerabilities within a few nights of hacking (in their personal time). I attended a seminar where they presented their results, and the quality of the software was pathetic to the point of disbelief. Imagine the botnet size when the vulnerabilities get exploited....

      Any sane person would have vetoed the project, at least in its current incarnation, even if he is hell bent on censoring everything available under the sun. It's just not feasible.

      So, it is not a change of policy, just that they finally got somebody actually with brains to pull back the project.

      Regarding "misunderstanding" mentioned in sibling posts -- I assure you, although sometimes people flame the Chinese government out of genuine misunderstandings, this one is definitely not one of those instances.

      I've read the original notice by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (the ministry which started the whole thing). It's here for those who can read Chinese, or have a good translator (human or otherwise) []

      It clearly, unambiguously, states that pre-installation by manufacturers is required. I'll translate the last sentence:

      " Tor those who do not preinstall after the deadline, those who are late in reporting (their progress) to authorities, those who falsify their reports or those who do not report, the Ministry will decree that they reissue the report or rectify their actions. "

      There is no misunderstanding. And those who don't believe me, find a translator.

      The GreenDam thing didn't really scream of censorship but rather incompetence. If you go past their kneejerk reactions and look at the whole thing closely, it was handled extremely incompetently. Rushed deadlines, crappy pirated software, uncoordinated plans, last minute changes, etc.

      And now the excuse is as lame as everything involved in this fiasco. "Misunderstanding" my ass.

      • Sorry to reply to my own post.

        On a closer look I think there are two misunderstandings here:

        #1 the "misunderstanding" that the Chinese government is pushing for censorship through GreenDam


        #2 the "misunderstanding" that manufacturers are required to preinstall the software on computers they ship

        I really didn't think much of #1 when I wrote the above post because (this must be a gross oversight here on slashdot ;-p), As I've said, I never considered it much of a censorship issue. So as a faithful slashdot

    • It is obvious what happened. Someone in the government who was benefitting financially from the imposition of Green Dam thought they could muscle it through. Someone with just a bit more juju who is a silent partner in a venture that's negatively impacted used the public outcry (which would normally be ignored) as a lever to squash Mr. Lesser Juju without him losing too much face. Had their little commercial spat gotten too public, it would have revealed in an even more obvious fashion how corrupt the In

  • Now the children's minds will become corrupted by images of porn....and democracy.
    • Now the children's minds will become corrupted by images of porn....and democracy.

      Don't forget alternate viewpoints of history and historical events. Who was right, who was wrong and what exactly happened seem to be fairly touchy subjects with the Chinese government. Even current news -- like the Khmer Rouge trials -- needs a meticulously spun delivery [] to be worthy of public scrutiny in China. Nothing's wrong with that, I just hope the citizens have the right to read about the trial through other outlets like ... say ... Cambodia's.

      • That's the tip of the iceberg. There are loads of situations where most of the Chinese population know the Chinese government is guilty of vast crimes but they also know that even alluding to it obliquely will get you locked up if someone informs on you.

  • wow that's expensive (Score:4, Informative)

    by ILuvRamen ( 1026668 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:45AM (#29053217)
    That's awfully expensive to "develop" when they stole filtering code from an internet filter company, as reported on slashdot.
    • I would always be cautious of any claims made by the PRC. Their concept of innovation is copying the concepts created and payed for by western companies. To be fair though, most countries would do that if they were in China's position.
  • All the best porn COMES from China...usually from people that have never even heard of the Internet.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Just to save yourself time and stress, go ahead and wipe your drive now before the FBI shows up to investigate your porn choices.
  • by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:46AM (#29053243)
    do not censor the internet, the lies and bullsh!t eventually gets debunked and the truth eventually shines through
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      do not censor the internet, the lies and bullsh!t eventually gets debunked and the truth eventually shines through

      I think that's what the Chinese Government was afraid of...

    • Yep, lies and bullshit are always debunked...everytime. How much market share does Fox have again?
  • The decade of the 1960's in the USA was the time when the young people of the USA finally got fed up with endless war, systemic racism, and lying government. The older generations just could not understand why these 'hippie scum' would not conform to the older generation's idea of 'normal'.

    When will the same thing happen in China? When will the youth decide not to sign up for a lifetime of back breaking labor for low pay? When will the youth of the different ethnic groups in China begin inter-marrying
    • by mrsurb ( 1484303 )
      Sounds like it's high time for the USA to have another 'sixties'.
      • What we really need is another seventies. 1770's!
      • It is true America retreated to fear based reactions to 9/11. However, the correction for the excesses of the Bush administration was to peacefully elect the first black President in USA history. The wild times of the 60's are not needed in this country any longer because the foundations of tolerance and liberalism laid out in the sixties are more or less permanent
      • Hell some places, like here in Oklahoma, are still waiting to have their -first- 'sixties'.
    • China had it's 60's in the 80's. Unfortunately the lying government ran the hippies over with tanks and terrified everyone else into not talking about it.

      • Ya, I remember watching it on TV in 1989. I cried. They can't use that solution forever. It worked in 1989 as a short term band aid, but someday the tank drivers will refuse to crush the heads of the nation's children.
        • > someday the tank drivers will refuse to crush the heads of the nation's children.

          From what I've read the soldiers from near Beijing did. There were pictures of trucks full of tanks that ran into people lying in the road and stopped. The students aparently went and negotiated with them and they turned back.

          At this point there was more or less a coup. Zhao Ziyang who had sympathized with the students was removed as leader and placed under house arrest. The new Chinese government got armoured divisions wh

  • by pearl298 ( 1585049 ) <> on Thursday August 13, 2009 @11:58AM (#29053425)

    Am I just paranoid in thinking that this is related to Iran's and Australia's recent success at filtering "objectionable" content at the ISP level?

    Certainly it is much easier to administer at that level with only a relatively few portals.

    This sounds like it validates the work on Fastnet and TOR.

    • Australia's success? They haven't turned it on yet.
      • Australia started a crude filtering system when I visited in 2000.

        This one merely extends the idiocy.

    • Yet another slashdotter who has "misunderstood" Australia's political system. There has never been a mandatory filter nor will there ever be one, it's simply a political game the two major parties play in order to castrate independent senators.
      • The original filtering is done at the ISP level and was working in 2000 to 2005 when I was there.

        I tried it on "banned" websites regularly. It was well enough done as to be difficult to detect, but it was very real.

        • The existing filter is only mandatory for government owned computers (schools, libraries, etc), it's OPT-IN for private citizens. Note that there are a minority of people who do want to use it, ~5% of users have opted in.

          The last case of genuine censorship I can recall was when they took down the web site of an MP because it had broken anti-right-to-die legislation. The servers were unplugged because they boke Australian law, the site shifted to a NZ host and was up again the next day. At no time was the
  • is that someone got paid $5.85 million by the chinese govt for copying and pasting cybersitter's source code: []

    • is that someone got paid $5.85 million by the chinese govt for copying and pasting cybersitter's source code:

      Yet more evidence that my entire career path has been suboptimal... *sigh*

  • Thank goodness for the spambot writers and other criminals. China couldn't care less about the censorship and Internet freedom moaning and groaning. They didn't want to turn the country into a giant botnet from the gaping security holes [] in Green Dam.
  • Seems as though the rapidly expanding rich are getting more power in in China.
  • What a computer is good for if it can't play porn!?...may be surfing Slashdot?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...and we have always been at war with Eastasia.

  • China didn't require installation of the software, it merely required manufacturers to ship it. Manufacturers could satisfy this requirement simply by sticking a CD into the box.

    Compared to, say, the German web censorship law [], that's actually a lot less intrusive.

  • The Chinese minister took the correct *technical* decision. If China is serious about filtering the internet, the filter can't be at the user level. I has to be at the ISP or peering exchange level.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel