China steps up web-filtering efforts

New software will maintain constant site blacklist on local machines

A new mandate from the Chinese government will require that all PCs sold in the country feature software blocking "harmful sites", according to reports.

The software, dubbed "Green Dam-Youth Escort" links PCs with a regularly updated database of banned sites, which it then blocks through the browser, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The report says PC makers have already been informed of the scheme and a public notice claims the aim of the software is to "construct a green, healthy, and harmonious internet environment, preventing harmful information on the internet from influencing and poisoning young people."

A spokesperson for HP claimed the company was "working with the Government authorities and evaluating the best way to approach this. Obviously we will focus on delivering the best customer experience while ensuring that we meet necessary regulatory requirements."

However, manufacturers could find themselves caught in something of a quandary, with the US Government already expressing reservations about the scheme.

"We would view any attempt to restrict the free flow of information with great concern and as incompatible with China's aspirations to build a modern, information-based economy and society," says Susan Stevenson, spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Beijing.

China's censorship of the web has been dubbed the Great Firewall of China and has led to sites such as YouTube and the BBC being blocked, as well as searches relating to the Tiananmen Square massacre returning no results.

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