The Green Dam software is postponed to a future time. Most makers said they could not make the deadline. Strong protests were made. The deadline was removed. Many questions remain unanswered.
Either there was a complete misunderstanding or, just possibly, the United States computer makers had a hidden agenda. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology at the very beginning said:
‘The notice to PC makers and sellers does not mean that the software’s installation as part of users’ operating systems is mandatory. Instead, the software package should be installed on either the hard drives or a compact disc with the computers.’
MIIT spokesman Liu Lihua has reaffirmed this and said the software could be switched off and uninstalled by computer users.
If this is correct, and it has been said several times, it is possible much of the fuss, which originated in the United States, may have been caused for reasons other than freedom of speech.
‘Green Dam’ was said to be able to identify and block pornographic or violent images and words on the Internet. The package could also help parents control how much time their children spend online.
MIIT originally said all new computers in China must have this software package available as from July 1 which is the day this is being published but said it could either be on a disk or available on the hard drive. At the last moment the government backed down and put the implementation in the indefinite future. But the mystery remains as to how so many people misunderstood — wilfully or not — exactly what the government was doing.
Shanghai Daily published a pretty representative comment which came from Ma Jingjing, who works for a foreign company in Beijing, has a seven-year-old son. She said: ‘I would like to try it on my family computer, but I don’t think it is very necessary for the company (computers).’
Now it matters not. It may come about at some future time but it is not something to bet on.