China is reportedly requiring all PC makers that sell in that country to ship an application that blocks access to certain Web sites and other content.
Simply put, Censorship.exe comes bundled with PCs sold in China July 1. According to the Wall Street Journal:
The government, which has told global PC makers of the requirement but has yet to announce it to the public, says the effort is aimed at protecting young people from "harmful" content. The primary target is pornography, says the main developer of the software, a company that has ties to China's security ministry and military.
The software is called Green Dam-Youth Escort, which is a term that indicates a porn-free Web surfing experience. The software, developed by Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co., with input from Beijing Dazheng Human Language Technology Academy Co., is only targeted at pornography, reports the Journal, which then goes on to imply that the software could do a lot more.
Given that the government mandated software is for parental control it's hard for PC makers to protest too much. After all, the Chinese government is only giving parents control over harmful content right? But you can see the slippery slope ahead. If you're a PC maker the Chinese order creates quite a quandary. Ship the software and enable the Chinese government to censor sites---potentially beyond pornography. Or refuse and potentially get pushed out of one of the most promising growth markets.
Rest assured this issue is just starting to brew. There is one out: China isn't requiring that its software be preinstalled. It can come on a disk. It's unclear why anyone would install this software willingly. The Journal reports:
Foreign industry officials who have examined the software say, it could transmit personal information, cause PCs to malfunction, and make them more vulnerable to hacking. It also makes it difficult for users to tell what exactly is being blocked, officials say.