China's Green Dam internet filter "not compulsory"
Aug 13, 2009, 7:20 GMT
Beijing - Chinese internet users will not be forced to install the controversial Green Dam internet filtering software, a top official said Thursday.
While the installation of the software on computers in public places including schools and internet cafes would proceed, consumers would be free to choose whether or not to install the filter, Minister of Industry and Information Technology Li Yizhong was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.
Li's comments are the strongest indicator yet that the government has abandoned original plans to make the filter compulsory.
While it had planned to require that all computers shipped to China come with the software pre-installed or included in the package, the government indefinitely delayed the move on June 30 after strong opposition from China's estimated 300 million internet users.
There were reports that security holes in the system could allow remote monitoring and control of users' computers, and the theft of personal information.
While Li reiterated the government view that Green Dam was intended to block violent and pornographic content on the internet to protect children, critics have also said the software consolidates existing blocks on politically sensitive websites.