Saturday, July 11, 2009



China has indefinitely postponed the rollout of its much criticised
Internet filtering tool, say the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and
news reports.

The Chinese government has backed away from a "hastily conceived directive"
that all new PCs should carry filtering software from 1 July, allegedly to
allow overseas PC vendors extra time to prepare for the law, says CPJ. No
new deadline has been given.

But Internet activists and bloggers who had opposed the software as
intrusive and unsafe also took credit for the rollback.

In May, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology told PC vendors
that they had six weeks to include the filtering software Green Dam on all
news systems sold in China, which would be paid for by public funds in the
first year.

Green Dam, which has already been installed on many school computers in
China, was ostensibly conceived to shield children from harmful content
such as pornography. But opponents of the measure argued that the software
could be used to filter other types of stories and could tighten China's
control of the Internet.

The move drew criticism from many IFEX members and other rights groups. A
group of Chinese citizens opposed to the law were planning to conduct a
one-day boycott of the Internet in protest.

CPJ points out a potential future avenue for campaigning: the U.S. Commerce
Department voiced concern that the directive violated international trade

Meanwhile, the Chinese authorities are accusing foreign activists of using
the Internet to incite violent protests this week in Xinjiang, report the
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and
Voice of America (VOA).

The Uighurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic group with cultural and linguistic ties
to Central Asia who have long desired autonomy from Beijing, have used the
Internet to rapidly spread images from what they say was a provocative
government crackdown on a peaceful demonstration. Chinese authorities say
156 people died on 5 July when Uighurs took to the streets to protest a
brawl between Han Chinese and Uighurs in Guangdong last month.

At a news conference on 6 July, Xinjiang's police chief Liu Yaohua singled
out the Internet, describing it as the main medium that foreigners use to
communicate with Uighurs in China, reports VOA.

The government has removed all Internet references to the protest, and
blocked social networking sites and disabled the Twitter messaging system,
reports RSF. The authorities claim the interruption was done legally, and
is necessary to maintain social stability.

Interestingly, the mainstream Chinese media has "embraced images" of the
clashes, which are working to stoke the Han majority's outrage against the
Uighur protesters, says CPJ.

Related stories on
- Beijing tells computer makers to install web blocking software:

More on the web:
- China postpones installation of filtering software... for now (CPJ):
- China delays rollout of Green Dam filtering tool (
- Independent reports about Xinjiang rioting censored in China (RSF):
- Some surprises, some old news in Xinjiang (CPJ):
- Chinese authorities blame Internet for fanning Uighur anger (VOA):

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