Check out this document from Solid Oak Software, makers of CyberSitter. It's a comparison of CyberSitter with Green Dam-Youth Escort, the software China is insisting PC makers start installing on July 1.
The file show just how similar CyberSitter's .dll files and Green Dam's .dat files are and how similar the code is. Green Dam even has an encrypted file that turns out to be a list of CYBERsitter serial numbers "posted at various illegal “crack” sites and is distributed as part of the CYBERsitter package so that the program can refuse to register if one of these serial numbers is used," Solid Oak says.
There's not really any doubt that Green Dam is ripping off CyberSitter. The company sent cease-and-desist letters to every U.S. PC manufacturer but Apple (the Green Dam edict appears to include Apple but there's clearly no Mac version out there; perhaps that's because CyberSitter is a Windows-only program!) Come July 1, marketing manager Jenna DiPasquale told me in a phone interview just now, Solid Oak will commence lawsuits in the U.S. and China.
What's news is this: Last night, for the first time ever, Solid Oak suffered "server problems" so severe the machines had to be rebooted. While DiPasquale shied away from claiming a Chinese attack on the company, she said, "we suspect there's something being done. We've never had a problem until last night."
And there's more. DiPasquale received an email last night that spoofed the internal email address of company president Brian Milburn. The message included some PowerPoint files, which DiPasquale didn't open once she realized Milburn didn't send the email. And weirder yet: The fake email contained Milburn's sig line from 15 years ago.
Weird. Solid Oak is waiting until July 1 but I'm pretty damn sure China's not going to back down. The original order was purposefully vague and China has had numerous opportuntities to hide behind that vagueness to retreat to some less offensive posture (like include the software on a CD for users to install as an option.) They've taken a hard line and China never backs down from a hard line.
This is more than a simple IP infringement case, so I asked Jenna how the company feels about all this.
We feel it's absolutely wrong. CyberSitter is designed as a parental tool to protect kids. By no means do we feel it's right for an entire country to require their citizens to use it. I'm skeptical as to the backdoor capabilites of the program. It's terrible. Everybody has the right to the Internet. Parents in China have the same concerns as here. They need to be able to choose what program is right for their family.
DiPasquale also thinks those 10,000 net monitors the city of Beijing is hiring are related to Green Dam. "They're trying to create their own blacklist. That's what they're dong with those 10,000 citizens."