Symantec backpedals over mislabelled Trojan

Symantec has withdrawn its decision to prevent Web surfers in China from accessing an anti-censorship program

Symantec has revoked its decision to blacklist a program that allows Web surfers in China to browse government-blocked Web sites.

The move follows reports that the firm labelled the Freegate program, which allows users to access blocked sites, as a Trojan horse - a type of malicious code. Critics interpreted the inclusion of Freegate in Symantec's virus definitions as support for China's censorship policy.

Users in China reported that Symantec's antivirus software prevented them from using Freegate. Following Symantec's change of policy, users are now free to download the program, the company said.

In a prepared statement, Symantec said: "A number of our customers drew our attention to what they deemed the suspicious nature of the Freegate software. Upon investigation by our researchers, similarities were noted between how the software operated and how various Trojan horses operated, based on the use of open proxies to penetrate firewalls used to block Web sites.

"As a result, it was deemed a cyber threat and blocked by our software. Since that time, further investigation indicates that Freegate is in fact not a Trojan horse and detection for this program has therefore been removed from Symantec's virus definitions."

Freegate, developed by Dynamic Internet Technology, has 200,000 users.