US government weighs in on Chinese filtering row

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US government weighs in on Chinese filtering row

Rethink Green Dam.

The United States government is pressing China to reconsider its mandate on web filtering software.

US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and trade representative Ron Kirk said Wednesday that they had co-authored a letter to be sent to the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

In the letter, the two officials urged China to revoke its plan to force the bundling of all PCs sold in the country with the controversial Green Dam filtering software starting on 1 July.

The law has touched off debate both within China and outside of the country, where international PC vendors would be forced to include the software with their systems in order to do business in China.

While Chinese officials insist that the software can be disabled and is only intended to filter out pornography, opponents argue that the software could be used to spy on users and censor dissidents.

Kirk and Locke expressed similar concerns in their letter.

"Protecting children from inappropriate content is a legitimate objective, but this is an inappropriate means and is likely to have a broader scope," said Locke.

"Mandating technically flawed Green Dam software and denying manufacturers and consumers freedom to select filtering software is an unnecessary and unjustified means to achieve that objective, and poses a serious barrier to trade."

Meanwhile, users in China are said to be planning a nationwide web boycott on 1 July to protest the Green Dam software.

PC vendors are also expressing concern over legal liability from possible copyright infringement by the software.

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