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. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
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
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
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.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.