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Cracks in China censorware patched

Claims personal pornwall is voluntary

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The Chinese government has ordered patches to fix security holes in censorship software which will be shipped with every new computer sold in the country from 1 July.

Researchers from the University of Michigan found major flaws in Green Dam's software which they claimed would allow a hacker to take over a machine. They also found the software included politically controversial sites along with lists of pornographic content.

But an official at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said that patches were available to fix the problems, and that the list of banned sites was created by Dazheng Human Language Technology Academy Company, not by the Chinese government. The Green Dam Youth Escort software was a joint venture between Dazheng Human Language Technology Academy and Jinhui Computer System Engineering Company.

The official also insisted the pornwall is voluntary and the government only requires it be shipped on, or with, new computers - whether it is turned on or not is up to individuals.

The anonymous civil servant told China Daily: "PC makers are only required to save the setup files of the program in the hard drives of the computers, or provide CD-ROMs containing the program with their PC packages,"

The same official said the government was aware of the security issues but patches were on their way - he said the problems reported by the University of Michigan had already been fixed. He said the two firms behind the software were chosen after an open bidding process for the $6.1m contract.

Although individual security holes might have been blocked, such widespread use of the same blacklisting programme could raise security problems of its own. ®

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