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China demands that new personal computers come with filtering software "Green Dam Youth Escort".



2009, July 1


China demands that all new personal computers are delivered with the pre-installed filtering software Green Dam Youth Escort, starting 1 July. The software is supposed to filter out pornographic content from the Internet. However, there is widespread suspicion that the Chinese government would use this software to strengthen their censorship of Internet access. Critics have argued that the Green Dam software may be used not only to block pornography, but also as a tool of the government to monitor and censor computer use, such as e-mail activity and Internet browsing. China has repeatedly blocked certain web sites, such as anything related to the Tiananmen protests or Falun Gong. The government censors have also shut down the Chinese-language version of the Google search engine for several hours with the argument it would spread pornography.

Comment: China's fight against the almost completely unrestricted distribution of pornography on the Internet is a legitimate policy. Many countries in the world have implemented legislation that should protect children and young adults. Content, which is considered illegal (such as child pornography or state secrets) may be blocked or removed from the Internet by state agencies. Law enforcement agencies may also monitor specific Internet users to prevent crime and terrorism or bring criminals to justice. However, such policies are only acceptable in a modern society, if they respect four conditions:

1. All cases of Internet monitoring or content blockage by state agencies must be governed by law and must be open to legal challenge in open court.

2. Parents must have the right to freely choose which filtering software they want to install on their children's computers.

3. Adults must have the right of unrestricted and unmonitored Internet access.

4. Any kind of systematic suppression of free speech by government agencies or any kind of general monitoring of information exchange on the Internet is unacceptable.


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