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China delays rule for Net-screening software

Beijing postpones a requirement that PC makers preinstall Green Dam software for filtering Internet content. But it may be just a temporary reprieve.

China has indefinitely delayed enforcement of a requirement that PC makers preinstall Green Dam-Youth Escort software that experts believe would have screened not just Internet pornography but also some online political content.

Green Dam allows users to specify categories of sites to block.
Green Dam allows users to specify categories of sites to block. University of Michigan

The reprieve, announced by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, according to reports in The New York Times and the Associated Press, came just one day before the preinstallation rule was to go into effect.

But thus far the reprieve appears temporary: the ministry said the delay will give computer makers more time to comply with the rule, and the government also will continue to equip school and cybercafe computers with the software, according to the New York Times report.

Experts have warned that the Green Dam software poses security risks, and last week, the U.S. Trade Representative protested that Green Dam violates World Trade Organization rules

PC makers had been cagey about their plans to comply with the rule to install the software. Technical and other objections must be weighed against business concerns, and China is a large and growing market. Companies that deal directly with Internet content have been in the hot seat for years, and Google has had to wrestle with new Chinese censorship requirements this month.