China’s Xinhua news agency reported today that the government will delay requiring its controversial Green Dam software to be installed on PCs being sold to the public.
The news comes just one day before the rule was due to go into effect.
Although it did not acknowledge numerous objections to Green Dam from governments and security experts alike, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) told journalists that the delay was in response to manufacturers who asked for extra time to install the software.
The security risks remain high, however, experts said.
“The security implications of millions of computers running Green Dam cannot be ignored. Vulnerabilities in Green Dam could suddenly introduce a ‘low-hanging fruit’ to be exploited on July 1st,” said security firm F-Secure in its quarterly threat report.
The government of China has closely monitored the Internet for some time, with Green Dam representing a new effort to require filters be installed on new PCs sold in the country. The effort aims to block pornography and other objectionable content, China has said, although rights groups have also joined in its criticism, claiming it could further China’s efforts to censor Internet activity.
China has also taken steps to regulate the online economy, with its Ministry of Commerce yesterday banning the use of virtual currencies for the purchase of real goods and services.
The Ministry said the crackdown was in response to the use of virtual currencies in gambling and fraud. The Ministry said that the most popular online currency in China is called QQ coins, issued by a company called Tencent.com, and that Tencent was supporting the government’s investigation into “online crimes.”
Green Dam will be deployed
The government of China did not say when the Green Dam software will be mandated on all PCs sold it China. The length of the delay was not disclosed.
Furthermore, the Green Dam software, with all its flaws, is due to be deployed in schools and Internet cafes. It also remains available “as a free download,” China’s MIIT said.
China’s MIIT did acknowledge security objections in passing when it said that it would continue to solicit advice on perfecting the software.
The last-minute policy change caught many by surprise. While Reuters was quick to report the change, those participating in the #greendam Twitter feed noted that, at press time, CNN was still reporting that the deployment would occur tomorrow as originally planned.