Feeds

US calls for China to revoke censorware plan

Green Dam under attack

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

The US adminstration is pushing China to review its controversial policy of mandating the installation of specific content filtering software on new PCs.

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk argue China may be placing itself in violation of World Trade Organization regulations by insisting on the pre-installing of a locally developed censorware package called Green Dam-Youth Escort on new computers from 1 July. The same restriction applies to PCs imported into China.

The US objection to the plan, sent in a letter to China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Ministry of Commerce, urges a rethink. Alongside restrictions to free trade, the protest letter also touches on concerns that Green Dam might lead to more censorship and restriction on internet use in China. The US protest also refers to fears that the security shortcomings of the censorware software might create a handy mechanism towards forming a monster botnet of compromised PCs in China.

"China is putting companies in an untenable position by requiring them, with virtually no public notice, to pre-install software that appears to have broad-based censorship implications and network security issues," Locke said in a Department of Commerce statement on its objection.

Chinese authorities maintain that Green Dam is needed in order to block pornography and other objectional content. China already deploys ISP-level controls, but it also wants to introduce client-side filters, in the shape of pre-installing Green Dam on new PCs.

China's unenviable reputation for internet censorship means trade and human rights groups are convinced Green Dam's core functions will include further frustrating access to politically sensitive material, such as the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement, Tibet and the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre of democracy protesters.

"Protecting children from inappropriate content is a legitimate objective, but this is an inappropriate means and is likely to have a broader scope," US trade representative Kirk argues.

"Mandating technically flawed Green Dam software and denying manufacturers and consumers freedom to select filtering software is an unnecessary and unjustified means to achieve that objective, and poses a serious barrier to trade."

Security researchers at the University of Michigan found a web filtering vulnerability and a blacklist update vulnerability after just hours of testing the software. They warn that Green Dam creates a means for malicious websites to commandeer the PCs of Chinese surfers who stray onto their sites in a paper here. Green Dam is already fairly widely used in China, but the suggestion, backed up by separate posts on security forums about supposed exploits, is that it's not particularly well written, is poorly tested and full of holes.

In related news, Solid Oak Software, which markets the CYBERsitter parental content software, alleges Green Dam rips off its proprietary code. It has written to HP and Dell urging them to refrain from shipping the software, the China Post reports. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.