An unknown number of Chinese schoolteachers, the Wall Street Journal reports, have been uninstalling web filtering software that the government ordered them to run in August.
Beyond the predictable cries of censorship, teachers told the Journal that installing the Green Dam Youth Escort software, punningly dubbed the Filtering Bully in Chinese, crashed their computers, made them unbootable, and blocked them from the student data applications on their own schools’ intranets.
The trouble began in June, when China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology made it mandatory for PC makers to include Green Dam on all new PCs sold there. The mandate only required PC makers to include the software, not to configure it to run. Nor were citizens ordered to run it themselves. (As you might guess, this freedom-of-information topic has an extensive Wikipedia page.)
Then, in August, the MIIT removed the requirement, but instead ordered all schools to install and use Green Dam. Reporter Loretta Chan says that’s when the real trouble began:
Researchers in and outside of China found that the software censored more than pornography, and actually blocked a wide range of content including Web sites about subjects including homosexuality and the spiritual group Falun Gong. They also said mass installation of the software in the world’s second largest PC market by units shipped would make computers vulnerable to cyber attacks.
One school claimed the program had a conflict with McAfee anti-virus software, also required by government regulations. A teacher said their PCs “died” while booting.
The Journal includes what journalists call a “to be sure” paragraph at the end. It says many teachers its reporters talked to had complied with the rule to use the software. But for readers who confuse China’s government with the one from Orwell’s 1984, take note: Teachers or administrators at several of the schools contacted by the Wall Street Journal about Green Dam Youth Escort had never heard of it.
[Photo: Zhang Chi]