Green Dam bursts under netizen pressure

I had meant to post this yesterday when I learned of it, but having my nation’s birthday to celebrate proved too much of a distraction–apologies. So, if you’ve not yet heard, Green Dam Youth Escort appears to be dead.

What was, as of July 1, to be mandatory censorship software installed on all new computers in China, has been indefinitely delayed due to a lack of prep time being given to hardware manufacturers.The 11th hour announcement came late on June 30 via the Government’s official mouthpiece, the Xinhua News Agency. And while a quote from an MIIT spokesperson laid fault of the delay on “computer manufacturers which don’t want to be “hasty” about carrying out the massive installation project“, it’s hard to believe that the immense domestic pressure wasn’t of primary concern.

Surely everyone who stood up and said, “hey, wait a minute… this is stupid,” played a part in causing the broken, stolen and lying piece of software to be aborted before it even truly began? However, personally, I doubt strongly worded letters from international business associations or US trade officials were the key resonating voices of dissent echoing through the halls of Beijing.

No, I think that voice belonged to the Chinese Netizens who were anything but quiet on the matter. From peaceful parties organized by prolific artists/bloggers to hacker attacks and death threats directed at the software’s manufacturer, China’s Internet community made it quite clear that the “well-intentioned” and deeply insidious software was anything but welcome on their personal computers.

Most of the (largely Western) media linked above (or found via a quick Google search) espoused much the opposite, perhaps eager to pat themselves on the back for encouraging a positive blow against censorship. But in a nation that suffers from in-around 100,000 “mass incidents” (a Zhongnanhai euphemism for riots, protests and demonstrations) per year, it is my opinion that the powers that be are more focused on their legitimacy inside their borders than out.

I think those heading up the Green Dam launch realized shortly after its initial announcement the massive mistake it clearly was, and looked for a relatively quiet way to back out. Saying that it was the hardware manufacturers’ problem of not being able to accommodate their request on time would give them a face-saving out that would allow them to shelve the project which after this week will largely be forgotten.

Well, until the Green Diaphragm Child Protector software is launched in 2010.

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