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Public skepticism about Green Dam

SHOULD every computer in China be installed with filtering software? And should the government make a decision before making the software known to the public and listening to their views?

Heated debates have arisen since the government said earlier this month that all computers sold in China would have to include software packages for filtering out online pornography.

On June 9, a filtering program named "Green Dam and Escorting Minors" was introduced to the public by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The software was said to be able to identify and block pornographic or violent images and words on the Internet. The package could also help parents control how much time their children spend online.

MIIT originally said all new computers in China must have this software package pre-installed as of Wednesday.

Ma Jingjing, who works for a foreign company in Beijing, has a seven-year-old son. She said: "I would like to try it on my family computer, but I don't think it is very necessary for the company (computers)."

However, there are a lot of people who are hesitant or skeptical when it comes to accepting the government's decision to install the software.

Ma Pengfei, who runs a personal computer business in northwest Beijing's Zhongguancun District, said: "Few clients have asked about (Green Dam), and fewer said they want to install it."

Yu Guoming, a professor at the Renmin University of China, suggested that the government install Green Dam on computers that are used in such public places as museums, schools and libraries.

"The government's original intention was good, but it is not proper for the government to make the installation mandatory when the public knows little about the software," added Ma Pengfei.

The MIIT has already made a clarification. On June 10, it said: "The notice to PC makers and sellers does not mean that the software's installation as part of users' operating systems is mandatory. Instead, the software package should be installed on either the hard drives or a compact disc with the computers."

MIIT spokesman Liu Lihua said the software could be switched off and uninstalled by computer users.


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