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US net nanny ratchets Chinese censorware spat

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US software maker Solid Oak has beefed up efforts to prevent the distribution of China's "Green Dam" app, continuing to claim that the Far East censorshipware includes code lifted from its own net-filtering tool, Cybersitter.

The Chinese government has decreed that all new machines in the country must ship with the infamous Green Dam. But on Monday, Solid Oak sent "cease and desist" letters to Dell and HP, saying that if the companies bundled the software on machines, they would face claims for damages. Now the net-nanny maker has send similar letters to Sony, Toshiba, Acer, Lenovo, and Gateway.

According to company spokeswoman Jenna DiPasquale, none of these PC manufacturers has responded. "We know that it's not the fault of the US PC manufacturers that this is happening," she tells The Reg. "That's why we have sent cease and desist letters before actually filing a court injunction. We think that's a more polite way to deal with it, considering we're all in the same industry."

Solid Oak also intends to sue the makers of Green Dam, including not only Jinhui Computer System Engineering but also Dazheng Language Knowledge Process Technology Co. Ltd.. "Right now, we're just trying to prevent the Green Dam software from being put on machines," DiPasquale says, indicating it will be sending letters to more manufacturers. "Once we're through with that, we're going to look into a possible lawsuit against the two developers in China."

She says that multiple law firms in China have contacted the company to offer their help with a possible suit.

Green Dam Youth Escort works to identify images, text, and urls visited by net surfers, and if they match blacklisted items, they're blocked. According to The New York Times, Beijing is demanding that the software be loaded on all new machines starting July 1. The package is called Green Dam because Beijing likes to associate a censored internet with greenness.

Solid Oak claims that Green Dam code uses DLLs tagged with the name of its CyberSitter application and actually makes calls back to Solid Oak servers. Open-source types have also noticed that the Chinese smut-filter is using OpenCV code without displaying the proper license. ®

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