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Blue Shield provokes fresh China censorware row

ISPs 'forced' to apply proxy surfer blocker

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China is reportedly pushing local ISPs to apply a censorware filter that's even more onerous than Green Dam, the PC software add-on that provoked an international privacy and censorship row this summer.

Landun (or Blue Shield) is even "more powerful than its problematic predecessor Green Dam", according to Reporters Without Borders. The press freedom organisation reports that ISPs in the southern province of Guangdong are installing the technology.

As a result it is becoming more difficult to view foreign-based websites or use proxies to surf the web in the run-up to the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the People's Republic of China on October 1.

Reporters Without Borders is calling for Chinese and provincial and national authorities to explain their plans to deploy the technology, which ISPs were reportedly told to apply by 13 September. Blue Shield, ostensibly designed to block porn, increases the monitoring and filtering capabilities already applied to Chinese internet connections. ISPs are given no discretion on applying the server-level censorware, according to Reporters Without Borders.

The organisation wants to bring the latest evolution of the Great Firewall of China out into the open in the hope of encouraging the types of protest that forced China to water down its plans to mandate the installation of Green Dam censorware in China in favour of a voluntary scheme.

"It was encouraging that the government backed down on Green Dam in the face of a public outcry in China and abroad and protests from internet players, but the reports of Blue Shield’s installation by some ISPs sound frightening for the protection of personal data and online free expression in China," Reporters Without Borders said.

"It seems that the government has again acted on the sly, perhaps to avoid a storm of protest similar to the one about Green Dam. We urge Chinese and foreign Internet companies to resist requests from the authorities to install filters and monitoring tools without telling their clients." ®

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