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China scales back censorship plans

Green Dam to now be voluntary

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The Chinese government is scaling back plans for compulsory net filtering for all citizens.

China's minister of industry, information and technology said Green Dam Filtering software would be compulsory for all computers in schools and public internet cafes, but not for individual PCs.

The government originally demanded that all machines should have the software either pre-loaded or at least included in the bundle of software discs included with new PCs. This was meant to start from July but was delayed.

Minister Li Yizhong said it was up to consumers whether or not they installed the software, but it would be required for PCs in public places.

Li said: "Installation is intended to block violent and pornographic content on the Internet to protect children. Any move to politicize the issue or to attack China's Internet management system is irresponsible and not in line with reality", according to government mouthpiece Xinhuanet.

The move caused a storm in China because the software appeared to catch much more than just pornography - sites relating to Tibetan self-government and Falun Gong were also blocked. Widespread protests were strengthened by apparent security problems with the software itself.

The Malaysian government is also rethinking plans for a national internet filter after protests. Reuters reports that the tender for a countrywide firewall is due to be cancelled. ®

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