Jun 16

Green Dam-Youth Escort

Written by Steve on Tuesday, June 16th, 2009 at 9:00 pm
Filed under:culture, education, General, Letters, media, News, politics, q&a, religion, technology | Tags:, , , , , , , ,
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China Internet

It seems the western media and Chinese blogosphere agree on one thing; Green Dam is not winning any popularity contests. Today, the Chinese government backed down on the mandatory usage of the software, though it will still come either pre-loaded or be included on a compact disc with all PCs sold on the  mainland from July 1st.

There are several problems associated with this software, each one an interesting topic in itself. I’d like to run down the issues associated with its release, one by one.

1) Why the sudden announcement of this invasive software with virtually no implementation time given to the manufacturers?

The Chinese government instituted this requirement less than a month before the mandatory start date. That time period is incredibly brief for manufacturers to test the software for compatibility and vulnerability. That is what I meant when I used the word “invasive”. We can only speculate on the answer. My guess is that the government wanted to keep reaction time to a minimum, anticipating that this would be unpopular.

2) Since the purpose of the software is to allow parents to keep their children from viewing pornography and sexually explicit material, why make the installation mandatory on all computers?

There can be a few reasons for this. The government might feel the parents aren’t sophisticated enough to install the software. The government might want to eliminate pornography and sexually explicit material for all Chinese netizens. The government might want to censor more than just pornography; i.e. Falun Gong, Tibetan issues, Tiananmen, etc. in a more active method compared to the current GFW. However, it also filters out flesh-colored images such as Garfield and Hello Kitty. The government might want to have a channel into personal computers in order to have the ability to censor other information in the future.

3) Is the software reliable and secure?

Apparently, it is not. Tests have shown it censors innocent sites and misses some harmful ones. Worse than that, it has major security vulnerabilities. A University of Michigan study found numerous security flaws in the software, with the potential for hackers to steal personal information, send spam or introduce malicious viruses.The Chinese government has already ordered Green Dam to release patches that would fix the security holes. If the program is as infected as it apparently is, what is to prevent a foreign entity from using this vulnerability to cripple millions of Chinese personal computers in a massive attack?

4) Are parts of the software stolen from Solid Oak Software’s CyberSitter program?

Solid Oak Software thinks so and is prepared to go to court over it. The University of Michigan study, which you can read here, lists the specific files pirated from CyberSitter. Green Dam disputes this and has threatened Solid Oak with legal action. Today, Solid Oak sent HP and Dell “cease and desist” letters.  Lenovo has already agreed to include the software in China, so could this directly affect Lenovo’s business in the States and HP and Dell’s business in China?

5) If you buy a computer in China and this program is already installed, what are your options?

Net polls in China have indicated that 80% of Chinese computer users plan to uninstall this software. Per the University of Michigan study:

“Green Dam allows users who know its administrator password to uninstall the software. We tested the uninstaller and found that it appears to effectively remove Green Dam from the computer. However, it fails to remove some log files, so evidence of users’ activity remains hidden on the system.

In light of the serious vulnerabilities we outlined above, the surest way for users to protect themselves is to remove the software immediately using its uninstall function.”

I recommended to my Chinese friends that if this goes through, they re-format their hard drive after purchase, then re-install software excluding Green Dam. Personally, I always re-format my hard drive after purchase to remove the unwanted junk programs that I’ll never use.

6) Final issue: How can China protect children from pornography on the net in a responsible manner?

The current method is the GFW, which has been shown to be effective concerning Falun Gong, Tiananmen and Tibetan issues in the past. However, the keywords for those issues are relatively easy to control. Pornography is another matter altogether. Is there a reactive way to do so without having to actively run programs on individual computers? And if Green Dam isolates individual websites, why can’t the GFW do the same thing? Will Chinese netizens ever agree to have programs installed on their computers that have the potential to allow the government to know every website they visit and have access to all their personal information?

I’m more of a hardware than software guy, and I know we have quite a few commentators that are very good with software. What do you think? Is there a better way for the government to protect children in a more benign manner?

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118 Responses to “Green Dam-Youth Escort”

  1. Allen Says:

    I have had to use several internet monitoring software for my friend’s start up because he was suspicious certain workers were wasting time surfing the net while working (as I am doing now, hehe).

    In general, I hate those software. They are slow, buggy, and a pain to manage.

    As someone with a software background, I generally hate all pre-loaded software that comes with most new pcs/laptops these day.

    So it’s no surprise when I say I am complete anti-Green Dam.

    My problem with the current controversy surrounding the Green Dam controversy is the unfairness of the attacks against the Chinese gov’t.

    There have been several allegations that the Chinese gov’t have abrogated its responsibility by releasing a bad software.

    All software when installed in a computer can potentially go awry and become “invasive.” All software – including even most core components of operating systems – can potentially be flawed and hence need to be regularly updated. The fact that Green Dam came with some bugs does not mean the Chinese government have somehow abrogated its responsibility.

    There have also been severe allegations that the Chinese gov’t is over-reaching into people’s lives. I disagree.

    It is well known in the technical community that the US NSA probably has a backdoor to (or enough computing power to break) all if not most security/encryption related software made in this country (see, e.g. this little article). Even if we don’t go all the way to the NSA level – we know several US government agencies routinely snoop around the web to obtain all sorts of information to catch alleged drug traffickers and child pornography makers.

    Privacy on the web is in general an important issue everywhere (see this NY times article).

    What is happening in China is only marginally worse (if even that) compared to the overall issues of privacy in an increasingly interconnected and technologically info-centric world at hand. We are making a mountain out of a molehill. Get some perspectives, people…

    Just my two cents…

    P.S. Glad to see you publishing again Steve. I’ll rejoin soon – right now I am just a little distracted with a lot of things going on in my personal life.

  2. Raj Says:


    Good tip about formatting hard drives and reinstalling, though I think many parents would hesitate about doing that.


    The fact that Green Dam came with some bugs does not mean the Chinese government have somehow abrogated its responsibility.

    How serious are the bugs? No one expects a release of flawless software, but for something like this that the government is forcing manufacturers to use it should not have the sorts of reported serious problems that Steve refers to. There was no urgent need to have this released now. When things are rushed and then have problems it’s the responsibility of the people who pushed it out.

    Of course we won’t see what it’s like until it’s released, but I don’t see anyone complaining simply because it’s not perfect. There are concerns people will be exposed to major problems.

    Even if we don’t go all the way to the NSA level – we know several US government agencies routinely snoop around the web to obtain all sorts of information to catch alleged drug traffickers and child pornography makers.

    Assuming that everything you say about the NSA and friends is true, does the US government use such power to stop people reading information from competing political parties and/or to monitor those that want to see the back of it? People rarely care that the Chinese government has power to do things, it’s more that they don’t trust it to use such powers wisely.

  3. Charles Liu Says:

    Steve, installation of this software is not mandatory, as you have pointed out in your opening paragraph; PC makers have the option to preinstall OR make it available on accompanying CD-Rom.

    As you can see from above document, end users are not required to use this software at all. The anti-malware license provided free by the Chinese government even runs out after 1 year.

    Green Dam is very munch like the McGruff SafeGuard sofware our own US Dept of Justice provid to its citizens under National Citizens’ Crime Prevention Campaign.

    Also, it is not a sudden announcement. According to this 2008 article on “green cyberspace“, the Chinese government have been promoting cyber safety, including use of Green Dam, since 2004.

    As to critical patches, just to keep things in perspective – how many critical patches Microsoft release each quarter, or Semantec’s critical patches on Norton Anti-virus.

  4. Charles Liu Says:

    Steve, here’s an article from Beijing city procurement dept on Green Dam:


    It stated the RFQ for a “green internet filtering software” was issued to the public a year and half ago. Over 70 companies applied, 28 actually delivered software systems for evaluation. The “sunshine gree web initiative” which this was under, started in 2006.

  5. zhwj Says:

    Charles Liu, the installation issue is not as cut-and-dried as you make it out to be. The language used in the government document actually says that the software “should be pre-installed on the hard-drive or on disc, and a back-up copy should be kept on a restore partition or on disc.” The document doesn’t clarify how one “pre-installs” on a CD, but the general interpretation (in the Chinese media too, among the software’s boosters and detractors alike) has been that the software will be more than just “available” to the user; the counter-argument is that it can be “uninstalled” if the user wishes, not that the user has to choose to install it.

    The company has implied as much in its statements to the press, and it was only this week, after days of controversy, that a MIIT official spoke to clarify the “misunderstanding,” and he didn’t even tell the press his name. It may well be that the the government has never intended to require pre-installation of Green Dam, but they have not communicated that to the public at all.

  6. Charles Liu Says:

    zhwj, Green Dam is not a new thing – the Chinese government started giving free download in 2008:


    So how did western media and bloggers turn this into “censorware” is beyond me – the end users were never under any mandate to run this software or keep any preinstallation.

    Some blogger even said this software can not uninstall b/c super admin password only the Chinese government knows, which is totoal BS.

  7. Steve Says:

    Since this is an open discussion, I’ll give you my ideas concerning your statements.

    @Allen~ I think you misunderstood my meaning of “invasive”. Green Dam as software isn’t an issue; Green Dam as compulsory software is (or was) the issue. Until today, that software was to be pre-loaded. As of today, the government backed off and appears to be giving the option to the user. That’s a HUGE difference! If I want to buy crap software, install it on my computer and then get viruses galore, I should have done my homework on the original software. Apparently (as I haven’t played with this software directly), Green Dam doesn’t have just a few minor bugs, it has major problems and can be easily hacked. So as far as I’m concerned, if the government backs off and allows the user to make the choice whether to install the software, I have no problem with their willingness to make it a freebie.

    Comparing it to the NSA is, in my opinion, a false comparison. All major developed countries have programs similar to NSA in terms of espionage, counter-espionage, terrorism, crime etc., and I’m sure that includes China. But those programs are not invasive, in other words, the software isn’t on your computer. They capture the information over cyberspace. The GFW is an example of a non-invasive system, designed to block rather than capture information.

    Who’s making a mountain out of a molehill? If the numbers are to be believed, Chinese netizens are. You can interfere with a young man’s politics, religion or historical perspective, but do NOT come between him and his sexually explicit material! 😛

    @Raj~ I agree, so I sent my friends a step by step breakdown of the procedure for re-formatting. I re-format at least once per year, just to clean up the garbage that accumulates. It sure speeds things up.

    As I said before, I can’t get too worked up if the installation is voluntary. If so, then the major issue would be whether Green Dam illegally used a competitor’s code and whether it can be easily hacked. I read in one of the articles that users with Green Dam software were accessing Solid Oak’s servers for automatic updates. If so, that’s pretty much being caught red-handed. We’ll see how much of the information is accurate since I’m sure this will turn into a long and drawn out legal matter.

    @Charles~ You’re correct, but only since this morning. Yesterday, the software was to be pre-installed on every computer.

    McGruff Safeguard is one of many available commercial “nanny” programs. Having access to a “nanny” is fine, and if the government is willing to spring for the software, more power to them. But those tests at U of Michigan showed that Green Dam filtered out not just explicit material but also political and religious material, so did the government misrepresent the actual product?

    I disagree; it WAS a sudden announcement. Yes, they’ve been working on green internet filtering software, but telling computer manufacturers that they had to install this software less than a month from the start date sounds like a sudden announcement to me. Why don’t you feel it was a “rush” job? If they had been working on this for years, why not tell the computer manufacturers a year or even six months ago and let them work out compatibility issues?

    Critical patches tend to be issued (though not always) as vulnerabilities are discovered. A few students at U of Michigan were able to crack this program in a couple of days, which shows the manufacturer did very little testing of the product. Chinese hackers are among the world’s best; I’m sure they could have figured this out a long time ago if given the chance.

    I’m not blaming the government for the vulnerabilities, I blame the manufacturer. Apparently the Chinese government agrees with me. which is why they ordered Green Dam to patch the program pronto.

    Microsoft & Norton: Two of my least favorite companies. 😉

    Charles, this isn’t a “western” issue, this thing is all over the Chinese blogs. Apparently the Chinese netizens are making the most noise about this. Most of the western reporting has been about pirated code, potential hacking and slave spamming, and the lack of time manufacturers were given to implement the software.

  8. Charles Liu Says:

    Steve, “Yesterday, the software was to be pre-installed on every computer”

    The announcement I cited said “preinstall or on CD-ROM”, and is dated 5/19. Can you show me some citation to back up your claim of “until yesterday”?

    LIke McGruff SafeGuard, Green Dam is also a commercial software; it happend to respond to the Jan 08 government RFP and won the compeitive bid, and the Chinese government has been giving free download (like McGruff) since Oct 08.

    Did you actually try Green Dam? Installing it doesn’t automatically filter anything; It doesn’t filter until you configure it. The end users, while under no mandate to run it, has to go into the Green Dam control panel to turn on filter settings before anything will happen.

    Why don’t you try it first? Here’s where you can download it:


  9. Steve Says:

    Hey, thanks Charles! I didn’t know you could download it.

    Earlier in the week, I read in many articles that the software was to be pre-installed. This was after the 5/19 date that you gave. Did the government change its mind between 5/19 and the announcement to the computer manufacturers, which was only last week? Or were the press articles inaccurate? This morning, the news was saying that the government had backtracked and announced the software could be either pre-installed or on a CD.

    The high-tech industry is concerned about the extra costs and liability exposure that would come from including the software with PCs. Here’s the latest.

    As Will Rogers once said, “All I know is just what I read in the papers, and that’s an alibi for my ignorance.” 😉

  10. pug_ster Says:

    I do believe that this green dam youth escort is a badly written software. Most windows installs are pirated and because of that most of them are unpatched and highly exploitable. I wonder if China address that issue.

  11. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Highly exploitable would be the entire windows OS. Every week I have some patch on my Vista and still I hear more problems. My vista just went nuts 2 weeks ago, and won’t start desktop. I have never seen that happen before.

    Lots of people don’t trust Microsoft or Bill Gates either. Doesn’t mean all the gripers are going to Mac.

    *Yes, Cyber nuts, Microsoft, Intel, and China will take over the world. You are all DOOOMMMEEDD!!!! (and that completes my daily dose of CAPS and !!!!) 🙂

  12. Charles Liu Says:

    Steve, “I read in many articles that the software was to be pre-installed.”

    Okay, where did you read it? While I appreciate the latest news, you need to show me something before the “until” to substantiate your claim, so we can see your source of information, as well as it’s reliabllity.

    Try Green Dam for yourself – the control panel allows you to turn on the following filters: adult oriented, adult oriented (strict filter), violent games, homosexuality, illegal/drug content. Once again sex/gay/FLG wouldn’t be filter until you enable the coorsponding filter.

    Also, did you read the U Mich. report? It says Green Dam has fixed buffer that can crash the app (not the system, as Windows run in protected mode), and with serious security flaw external to Green Dam (DNS flaw, ability to impersonate Green Dam server) then Green Dam may be exploited.

    Do you see a problem with this report? It assumes your system has no other conventional security measures such as anti-virus or firewall software. Without these almost any Windows system is vulnerable to attack, by the merit of Windows itself (thank you Raven).

    Green Dam is a content filtering software only, and it’s supposed to be run with AV, firewall, etc.

  13. JXie Says:

    In short:

    You can do a google news search based on keyword “green dam”, sort by date and find the oldest ones. Read the oldest ones, and it’s apparent that the original source is WSJ’s June 8th article. The exact verbiage of the original WSJ article is:

    The software needn’t be preinstalled on each new PC — it may instead be shipped on a compact disc.

    However, the option of shipping the software on a CD, is omitted by many subsequent news reporting pieces, which of course make a better but untrue story.

    In a nutshell, that’s how a good portion of the news on China is being reported.

  14. Shane9219 Says:

    This whole reaction clearly has something to do with the silence of June-4th event in Chinese media. Western media people are not satisfied in anyway, they will continue to pick on China no matter what, regardless what the actual issue involved, whether it be Tibet, human rights, environment, online censorship or one-year free web filtering software.

    Well, life goes on in China regardless what they want to nitpicking. Ultimately, it’s people who decide government policy, even in China, and majority in China are content with their own improved lives and satisfied with the performance of their government.

    On the contrary, it is western governments are under siege nowadays. Liberal democracy has not bring good governance to many of them, let alone the decision to invade Iraq. There are wide-spread calls among media and experts alike to have the State of California declare a bankruptcy in order to side-step the gridlocked state congress.

  15. raventhorn4000 Says:



    Someone should take a look at the way Western Media “filters” and “censors” information.

    Computer programs are only designed to do what people programmed them to do.

    Western Media actively distort information through their reporting.

    Of course, it makes great paranoia and great horror movies. China building the HAL 2000 super computer to take over the net and tries to suffocate the heroic astronaut.

    But of course, as my favorite Comedian Lewis Black commented, “They (some of the same people) believe that the Flintstones was a documentary, and dinosaurs lived side by side with man.”

  16. Steve Says:

    Charles, Reuters was the oldest one I could find, also from June 8th. The exact quote was, “The requirement to pre-install the software is “in order to consolidate the achievements of the online campaign against pornography, combine punishment and prevention, protect the healthy growth of young people, and promote the Internet’s healthy and orderly development,” the ministry said.”

    The other interesting quote was “An industry official, who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation against his company, said foreign technicians testing the software had been unable to uninstall it.”

    JXie, thanks for tracking that article down. I’m not sure which came first, the chicken or the egg… uhh… I mean, Reuters or WSJ.

  17. raventhorn4000 Says:

    California is a great example of democracy run amok. They even had a “vote” to decide whether they should have more “vote”, ie. referendum process.

    Thank Heavens/God/Buddha/My eternal karma, that I just left that state.

    I’ll give it a few years to sort out all the mess.

    California, lots of referendums, only proved 1 thing: People will vote for all kinds of great social programs, but don’t want to pay the prices/taxes for them.

    Bread and circuses. Still holds true every single time tested.

  18. Steve Says:

    R4000~ And exactly what does this have to do with Green Dam? Please stay on topic. I tend to keep my posts per admin’s rules and won’t hesitate to collapse rule breaking comments. You just got your mulligan. 😉

  19. JXie Says:

    Steve, In the Reuters piece itself, it said it was first reported by WSJ on Monday (June 8th). WSJ is a paid site, not all of its contents are searchable via google.

    I hate the way how the Reuters reporter put the quote signs:

    The requirement to pre-install the software is “in order to consolidate the achievements of the online campaign against pornography, combine punishment and prevention, protect the healthy growth of young people, and promote the Internet’s healthy and orderly development,” the ministry said.

    Did the ministry say the software had to be pre-installed? If not, the reporter effectively mixed his/her understanding with a quote.

    A one-line story: A lady felt that she was sick and tired of her clothes, and needed to take a day off to shop for new clothes. She called her boss and said, “I am sick and tired.”

  20. Steve Says:

    JXie and Shane: I’m no big fan of ANY media, western or non-western, but what does the western media have to do with the reaction in China? No one in non-Chinese countries will be affected by this software, just Chinese users. They’re the ones who are not happy about it.

    For me, the bigger issue right now is the whole Green Dam/Solid Oak situation. It puts HP, Lenovo and Dell between a rock and a hard place, doesn’t it? I’m sure the vast majority of non-Chinese users don’t give a flip about Green Dam. In the end, this affects a few hardware manufacturers and a bunch of Chinese netizens, and really no one else.

  21. JXie Says:


    First you are absolutely right the Green Dam/Solid Oak entanglement creates quite a bit of conundrum for PC makers. Very interesting how this may play out.

    Second, I just don’t think the Green Dam story has much to do with censorship. Censorship does exist in China, but this is not it.

    Third, doesn’t it make you wonder what else they misquoted and mis-represented?

  22. Steve Says:

    JXie, from what I could see in the WSJ article, what you said is correct. I don’t know if there was additional reporting afterward or if the reporter just made an assumption. I would not be surprised either way. Welcome to the murky world of media.

    Today, the WSJ ran another story on the situation. This paragraph was as close as I could get to the subject at hand, “Computer makers that install the program face fallout if it makes their computers malfunction and could also have to deal with a possible PR hit back home. Those that don’t could be penalized by the Chinese government, which hasn’t yet laid out clear guidelines.”

    Also from the article, “A report out Friday from the OpenNet Initiative, set up by Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford and the University of Toronto, finds that Green Dam can monitor activities outside of Web browsing and can terminate applications.”

    “Whatever the software’s provenance, the advent of Green Dam creates a dilemma for foreign companies invested in China. Computer makers that install the program face fallout if it makes their computers malfunction and could also have to deal with a possible PR hit back home.”

    “Ultimately it will be the Chinese people who reject their cyber censors. In that sense, the widespread condemnation of Green Dam is encouraging. School teachers report in online forums that they are unable to access news stories and course material. Other online forums are filled with griping about the software glitches and cost of the program — some 41 million yuan ($6 million) — which the government paid to Jinhui in a nontransparent process. A survey of 26,232 people on Web portal Sina.com found that more than 80% of respondents did not support Green Dam. One Web site running a petition against the software reports it has collected more than 7,000 signatures. Even state-run media have run critical articles.”

    Why do we keep talking about the western media when this is obviously an issue in China itself?

    Hey, good one-line story! 😛

    P.S. One thing I’ve learned in life is that whenever a news story reports about something I am very familiar with, they are wrong, every… single… time. So my confidence in reporters understanding the issues, especially technical issues (my background), is just about zero. We’re both on the same page for this one.

  23. Shane9219 Says:

    @Steve #20

    I mean the reaction from western media and some western people living inside or outside of China.

    1) Westerns need to know that many PCs are bought in China for education purpose of their young children, and most adults are not tech savvy to install or purchase this kind of software. This is especially true to people living in rural area (where most new PCs are going to be sold)

    2) There is no requirement to have this Green Dam thing installed on anyone’s own PC. So why they make a fuss about it.

  24. Wukailong Says:

    Quickly after the official statement from the Information Bureau was released (Charles’ first link in #3), a spokesman said that Green Dam can be uninstalled, something that is mentioned in the end of this article:


    It is indeed a good thing computer manufacturers only need to ship a CD, because otherwise some computers that do not ship Windows preinstalled would just be shut out from the Chinese market. Actually, to me, preinstalled Windows is the real scandal. 😉

    @Allen (#1): All software is buggy, but there really should have been more testing of Green Dam. First of all, it’s 2009 and the developers of this thing are still using fixed-size buffers to parse URL:s:


    “If Green Dam is deployed in its current form, it will significantly weaken China’s computer security. While the flaws we discovered can be quickly patched, correcting all the problems in the Green Dam software will likely require extensive rewriting and thorough testing. This will be difficult to achieve before China’s July 1 deadline for deploying Green Dam nationwide.”

  25. Charles Liu Says:

    JXie @ 21, you are absolutely right. Green Dam is not this “censorware” buzz word that’s flying around in certain crowd. By the fact end users are under no obligation to run this software proves it has nothing to do with censorship.

  26. Steve Says:

    Shane9219: I think you’re under a misconception. I’m not against software to protect kids at all. I tried when writing this post to address that concern in a way where that problem could be solved without other problems occurring.

    However, if someone in a rural area or someone who wasn’t tech savvy wanted this included in their package, either installed or un-installed and it was their choice, I don’t have a problem with it at all, provided some of the software code wasn’t pirated from another company. Voluntary vs. mandatory are two completely different issues.

    Could you show me where in my original post I condemned the idea of “nanny” software? I thought I presented it in a relatively unbiased fashion, and tried to list as many possibilities and solutions as I could think of.

    A question or two for you: Why are the gripes coming from the Chinese themselves? I could understand your point if only the western press was condemning this software, but the complaints are actually coming from the Chinese users themselves. If this is no big deal, why would 80% on Sina.com (most of whom I doubt can read English) be against this idea? Why would state run media print critical articles?

  27. Wukailong Says:

    @Steve (#26): Sina is not a state-owned company, though in China (as you know) the boundary between state-owned and private is often murky. Has the state media (Xinhua or China Daily) printed articles critical of Green Dam?

  28. Steve Says:

    WKL: Here’s the latest article from China Daily, which incidentally seems to say that until today, the Chinese government had mandated the software be pre-installed.

    A government official said this today, “PC makers are only required to save the setup files of the program in the hard drives of the computers, or provide CD-ROMs containing the program with their PC packages,” according to China Daily. “The government’s role is limited to having the software developed and providing it free.”

    This is from Xinhua last Wednesday; again they seem to say that the software before this newest announcement was to be pre-installed.

    “The Chinese government officials have denied a media report that claims the pre-installed Internet softwares to filter pornographic content was a kind of “spyware” to control users.

    “The software is designed to filter pornography on the Internet and that’s the only purpose of it,” Liu Zhengrong, deputy chief of the Internet Affairs Bureau of the State Council Information Office, was quoted by Wednesday’s China Daily as saying.

    Liu said the software was not advanced enough to act as spyware.

    The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said Tuesday the country would have all new computers produced or sold after July 1pre-installed with filter software packages, which could filter porn words and images to protect minors from “unhealthy” information.”

    Charles, is that enough substantiation?

    So since now it’s not going to be pre-installed, let’s get off points 2 & 5 and move on to the others.

  29. Wukailong Says:

    @Steve: Thanks for providing the links!

    By the way, a friend of mine sent me the following link that is said to be the files containing the URL:s and keywords Green Dam blocks:


    Some make sense to me, others… well.

  30. imagebilly Says:

    I resolutely oppose any pre-installed software (yes, including the pre-installed hardrive-mirrored, manufacturer-customised Windows). This piece of crap Green Damn is yet another example of another runaway rogue ministry attempting to expand its power – we have seen that with SAFE and MOFCOM in 2006 and 2007 with their ridiculous (and eventually not enforced – because they are simply non-enforceable) directives No. 19 and No. 49 about foreign investment.

    Screw the liberals.

  31. raventhorn4000 Says:


    I was merely referring to Shane’s comment on post # 14 regarding California. It’s just a passing comment about California.

    It is much easier to bypass a computer than to bypass a distorted media (especially, when the distortions are not overt, and they have more money than the whole Green Damn program.)

    Computer savvy kids can hack networks. And business pressures often get the Chinese government to back down on silly rules. And when the cost is too high, the government will often just abandon the effort.

    On the other hand, business interest drives Western Media distortion. It’s a well paid hobby of willful ignorance.

    Regarding computer “censoring”, frankly, I haven’t seen anything that works that well as a “filter”.

    Spams still get through my email accounts. And people are still getting “wormed” or “virused”.

    Shorting to just cutting the hardlines, there is simply no practically useful program to block information. The only way is to have human monitors for every communication to actively determine whether to block or not. And that’s too expensive.

    A magical computer “big brother”? I don’t buy it, not for the price they are supposedly charging, which is “free”.

    The more logical explanation is that the program is just a simpler program than what the Western media has claimed it to be.

    Simpler explanation often is the correct one.

  32. MutantJedi Says:

    Good grief. Of course the software is about censorship. It is designed to restrict access to content. If it didn’t censor, it would be not what it is.

    Also, the software nor the government ever pretended that it would just block porno sites. From Web users question rules on mandatory filter software:

    The move will require all personal computers sold in China, starting July 1, to include software “aimed at blocking and filtering some unhealthy content, including pornography and violence,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said yesterday, defending the directive.

    By the way, homosexual topics seem to be included in the list of unhealthy content. Click to see screenshot And what is “illegal activities?” (非法活动) Seems to me you can include a lot of things in such a broad category.

    Trust. Or lack of trust. That’s the issue here. The river crabs are famous for censorship. Youtube is still blocked. Blogspot is still blocked. Nobody here can look me square in the eyes (figuratively of course as, well, you can’t even literally see me) and say with a straight face that the government wouldn’t use an installed base of Green Dams to filter any content it deemed to be “unhealthy.” Since the word “freedom” in a google search causes the server to unexpectedly drop, we have a pretty good idea what “unhealthy” might encompass. 🙂

    That aside, the government’s approach was all wrong. They should have learned from the Americans. The US government has been quite successful in pushing through a number of initiatives that make the Green Dam look like a, well, girl. The War on Drugs – more spending on stuff that puts people in jail and keeps them there. The War on Terrorism – more spending on a whole lot of stuff that ought to scare the poop out of the yanks, not to mention the Patriot’s Act. The Chinese government should have had a War on Porno. Get the netizens demanding the koolaid. Works well in the West.

    Lost in the rhetoric is the observation that the people did speak out against a software system that they felt uncomfortable about and the government, as much as they possibly could, listened. I find that a bit encouraging.

  33. barny chan Says:

    raventhorn4000: “business interest drives Western Media distortion”

    I’m in total agreement with this. Rupert Murdoch’s desire to tap into the Chinese market is the reason why the individual NewsCorp outlets give China such an easy ride.

  34. Steve Says:

    @R4000: Yep, you’re right, I missed that comment from Shane. Sorry about that. I’m from San Diego so believe me, I can sympathize. Wait a minute, I’M the one who’s still here! 😉

    I agree that business interests drive western media, in fact, they drive media all over the world excepting a few countries, while political interests drive Chinese media, with some changes to increase readership (and profits), especially from some of the southern Chinese media.

    However, I’m not buying into Green Dam being a western media distortion. I think it’s a side note in the news here, not a big story. It’s really a much bigger story in China. It’s easy to blame the “media” but I’m not sure people pay that much attention to foreign media stories.

  35. Charles liu Says:

    Steve the 5/19 government announcement came from Green Dam opponent. Also I was able to see FLG, TAM mothers, and Pamela Anderson with Green Dam. Uninstall is non-standard but whoever can’t do it didn’t read tutorial or chat with tech support.

  36. Shane9219 Says:

    @Steve #34

    I disagree. On the highest level, it shows another misplaced interest by western media on China — the so-called shark mentality. Without the push from western media, UM people might not spend one minute on a simple software package from a small company. They care more about their “concerns”, without giving any credit to the good intention of pushing out such software. Western media just don’t know how home PCs are used in China. In the rural area, many parents are day labors. They spent their hard earned income on a PC with sole purpose to educate their children. They only know it is a good thing to do.

    BTW: on technical level, I don’t pick side on the ongoing dispute between the two companies. Such kind of disputes are dime a dozen nowadays.

  37. real name Says:

    “I just don’t think the Green Dam story has much to do with censorship.”
    why not? it filters web connents for sensitive texts and pictures, also cares about your typing – try to google when “green dam will close program” (note: also notepad)
    is there any extra check for political terms in program’s options?

  38. Wukailong Says:

    @Shane9219 (#36): Do you have any data for the claim about how most computers are used in China? I’m not questioning it, just curious.

    I haven’t read much in the “Western media” about Green Dam, to be honest. Most of it is Chinese reports and opinions from others here in my vicinity. I still haven’t found anyone who thinks it’s a good idea, or believe it’s done with good intentions (where good intentions are to make sure children are protected from bad webpages). Also, the first time I heard complaints that this was Western media spin was on this site.

    “Without the push from western media, UM people might not spend one minute on a simple software package from a small company.”

    The company is small and the software package might be simple, but anything that comes preinstalled in China comes preinstalled in great numbers (potentially hundreds of millions). All the more reason to investigate this program.

  39. Shane9219 Says:

    @real name #37

    This software is designed for parental-type control. It will do what it does. There is no universal formula on this sort of things (I mean the range of supervision and censorship). Better to use common sense.


    Of course, western media played a role just look at the flood of coverage. For tech savvy parents, I would agree to use something else, that maybe cost more. For not so-savvy parents, something working is better than nothing. It has been running on lots of school computers, right? The detective work done by UM was usually something people do in their spare time and basement, not from serious scholars.

    Rural regions have become a very important market segment for new PCs. The government is running a rebate program.

  40. Charles Liu Says:

    Yes Shane @ 36, The problem I see is there’s a gap between what the Chinese citizens are saying and what western media and bloggers are emphasizing. Is it government censorship when people are under no obligation to run or keep this software?

    Everyone is emphasizing the summary term “preinstall” in page 1 of the announcement, while the detail in page 2 clearly states PC makers have the option to preinstall on hard drive or put it on CD.

    IMHO while the Chinese citizens aren’t talking about oppression or human rights, we in the west are exploiting this news and twisting it to fit our “official narrative” of China in those regards.

  41. S.K. Cheung Says:

    I’m all for protecting kids. So if I were to take the Chinese government at their word (hey, first time for everything), and this is truly to prevent kids from accessing “bad” content, then their goal is laudable. Of course, based on what others have said in terms of the stuff this program filters out, I wonder if they had “other goals” in mind.

    Nevertheless, even if their goal is as pure as the driven snow as they’re selling it to be, their method of achieving it still seems somewhat misplaced. If some internet content is “bad” for kids, shouldn’t the onus be on the parents to educate their children of that fact, so that these kids know what they should and shouldn’t seek on the internet? That’s certainly how I was brought up, and how I hope to teach my kids. If you teach them right from wrong, hopefully they will learn to avoid doing the wrong thing; if you only place barriers to keep them from doing the wrong thing, they will probably find other ways around it to commit the same wrong.

    Furthermore, accessing questionable content is one thing. But I wonder if cyber-bullying and predators are in fact a greater threat for Chinese kids on the net, and i’m not sure if this program does much to address those issues.

  42. Wukailong Says:

    @Shane9219 (#39): “Of course, western media played a role just look at the flood of coverage.”

    I think you have to be a bit more specific than this. That there is a lot of coverage (well is it, compared to other things?) doesn’t mean that there is a specific agenda, or that it is biased.

    I’m personally more concerned about what the Chinese media has to say about this, because the Chinese are basically the ones who are affected by this thing (plus some computer companies, incidentally also the one I’m working in).

    @Charles Liu: Chinese netizens might not be using the words “oppression” or “human rights”, but the expression “democratic rights” have come up several times. If people don’t find it invasive, then what are they clamoring about?

  43. Shane9219 Says:


    Seems that you are not aware how big deal the whole matter to the West. Even companies like Google joined the crowd to push for an intervention by US government. Certainly not the first time and not a surprise to me.

    No one, including young children, like to be supervised in some way. This is actually a good metaphor of selling “democratic rights” to ordinary people. People naturally favor rights over responsibility, the more the better, especially when they are being told “It is God-given, and all men are born with the same rights”.

    The so-called “God-given rights” are more a religious belief than reality. A balance between collective rights and individual rights in a pragmatic way is needed to provide a foundation for good governance. No wonder some scholars in the West say China is actually lucky not to bear the burden of US-type constitution, in which the State has to swear to God this and that.

  44. real name Says:

    “This software is designed for parental-type control.”
    i just wonder if is there any other parental-type control protects children against words they type to notepad
    i miss information how it deals with own drawing into mspaint, voice and video recording, probably there is place for improvements

  45. Allen Says:

    @Steve #7,

    You wrote:

    Comparing it to the NSA is, in my opinion, a false comparison. All major developed countries have programs similar to NSA in terms of espionage, counter-espionage, terrorism, crime etc., and I’m sure that includes China. But those programs are not invasive, in other words, the software isn’t on your computer. They capture the information over cyberspace. The GFW is an example of a non-invasive system, designed to block rather than capture information.

    On some level, I agree with what you wrote. When the gov’t mandate something to be installed on my computer, it seems to be crossing a line – to commit a “tresspass” on my personal property.

    But when I think more about it – are you trying to say there is a right to install whatever you want on your computer? Is there a right that a person’s home – or pc – or laptop – is a sanctuary that is off limits to the gov’t?

    Irregardless of the answer, on another level, I categorically disagree with your (to me “artificial”) boundary between the computer and the network.

    In this case, the Chinese gov’t could equally well have mandated service providers (e.g. dsl, cable, wireless providers) to install service that monitors and block content. The software may have to be more sophisticated than currently proposed, but it is definitely already technologically feasible. If that were to happen, I suspect people would still be equally incensed at the gov’t’s action.

    The issue for me is thus not whether there is a line between the computer and the network. In fact, as the Information Revolution continue to evolve, the computer is increasingly the network, and vice versa!

    Already, we see that the current trend is for more and more applications and resources are moved to the “cloud” (think email, calendar, etc.). “Cloud computing” is a hot buzz word these days. But people have actually talked about treating computer resources as services to be sold as utilities over the Internet for over a decade now.

    So both technologically as well as philosophically, I disagree with your characterization of the line between the computer and the network as the defining yardstick for what is “invasive” and what is not.

  46. Wukailong Says:

    @Shane9219: Indeed, I am in China. I might be unaware of how big this issue is there (“the West”), but what I hinted at is that it’s very difficult to show how big the issue really is. The only foreign media I regularly frequent is BBC, and they haven’t written very much about the issue compared to what has recently transpired in Iran and North Korea. I do believe there’s something fishy with the reporting from Iran and the allegations of voting fraud, but the Green Dam thing just doesn’t seem that big.

    As for “democratic rights”, this is a term that has been more and more common in Chinese media recently.

  47. raventhorn4000 Says:

    The issue of cyber snooping is fairly new.

    But the idea that a government would mandate installation of a cyber snooping software is a little irrational.


    The government already owns the control of the hardline, and can control licensing of all ISP’s on the network (in their own country). Cyber snooping is far more effectively accomplished by installing a snooping software in the ISP end. And it would be far easier and far more secretive. (afterall, the point is to do the snooping as secretly as possible, so that people would not be able to bypass it.) I mean, wasn’t it already well discussed that Chinese government requires Google and Yahoo to turn over private information (already cached by the ISP)?

    What’s the point of doing the installation on all the end users’ computer, when it obviously would be too costly, too inefficient, would tip off everyone, would generate bad publicity, and would give hackers a sample of the software to reverse engineer and bypass??

  48. real name Says:

    in similar cases i’m usualy speaking: just imagine you are goverment officer and have relative who owns company for…

  49. SD Steve Says:

    @ Shane #36: Sometimes I think there’s a disease out there called “Google News fever”, where people who are interested in a particular subject check it out on Google and see dozens of articles so they think it’s a big new story, while in reality it’s actually rather small. Yesterday, I asked a few people here if they knew anything about it (all non-Asian Americans) and none did. Then I asked again at martial arts practice (three Taoist Chinese styles) and no one had heard of it. So it’s real impact here is pretty much nil.

    Shane, let me ask you a question. You’re a reporter in Beijing for an American media company. What type of articles will you write? Wouldn’t you look for subjects that appealed to your audience? Wouldn’t you look for aspects of China that were related in some way to events in the USA? If we look at internet privacy, it became an issue in the States because of the RIAA’s silly lawsuits against teens and 80 year old grandmothers. They wanted the ISP’s to be responsible for song uploads, etc. and paid the price for it. So China decides to make this software mandatory. The WSJ reporter in Beijing sees the implications for major American businesses such as Dell, WSJ and Microsoft, and writes the story. How is that a misplaced interest? Isn’t the reporter just doing his job? The majority of the stories I’ve read about it focus on the poor quality of software, the legal issues with Solid Oak and the burden placed on hardware manufacturers. As far as mandatory compliance, they have been reporting on the reaction taking place with Chinese netizens. Isn’t focusing on the messenger rather than the message using the messenger as a scapegoat? I certainly would not call this a “flood” of coverage. There’s far more about Palin/Letterman than there is about this. Intervention by the US government? Could you be more specific?

    The legal issue isn’t about taking sides, it’s about whether Green Dam stole code from Solid Oak. They either did or they did not. The quantity of similar cases doesn’t have any bearing on the merits of this particular case.

    I agree with you about using common sense when it comes to censorship. Of course this is censorship, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Any program that blocks information is censorship; that’s the meaning of the word. The dictionary would define it as “an official who examines books, plays, news reports, motion pictures, radio and television programs, letters, cablegrams, etc., for the purpose of suppressing parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military, or other grounds.” Doesn’t the EU censor holocaust denial and Nazi propaganda?

    @ Charles Liu #40: Charles, you asked me to provide sources and I provided Xinhua and China Daily, both of which reported that the software was mandatory before yesterday’s change of policy. Do you not believe Xinhua, which was specific about it, where they specifically used the word “pre-install”? Didn’t the reaction to the policy in China cause the government to back off on this requirement? Since the policy change, I haven’t read anything in my local media calling it mandatory censorship, so I don’t see where you’re going with this. How is anyone “exploiting” or “twisting” this? If you’re convinced people are staring at you, it’ll seem like people are staring at you, won’t it?

    The point of the post was for us to come up with a better way to achieve the noble goal of protecting children from internet porn while continuing to give people the choice on what they can install on their computers. Blaming “western media” doesn’t accomplish anything except to avoid the topic.

    @ SKC #41: Good point about cyber-bullying and internet predators. I would not rate those issues above or below sexually explicit material for children, though. One issue that exists in China but would not exist with your kids is that you are computer savvy, and can better teach them how to use the net responsibly because you know what’s out there. Many Chinese parents, especially the ones in rural villages, do not understand the net at all and have no idea what it contains. I have to admit, when I first hooked up to the net back in the early 1990s (14.4 kbs/sec, horrible!), someone told me to make sure I knew what was on there. I started searching for things and no matter what I typed, it was there. I had no idea! So I had a long talk with my son about it but I can completely understand that concern.

    Today, social networking sites such as Facebook seem to be a cause for concern among parents.

    Allen & R4000: I’ll answer you in a separate post since this one is getting long.

  50. SD Steve Says:

    @ Allen #45: I think you brought up some very good points so I wanted to address them more thoroughly.

    If a person owns a computer and never goes online and never shares the information with anyone else, I don’t think any government cares what he has on there. It’s the process of going online, of being able to send and receive information that has them worried. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it is a “right”, since I’m not sure what that actually means. I believe it is simply not a concern to anyone else unless the computer owner is caught doing something illegal and the computer needs to be seized for evidence. As in a home search, that would require a legal search warrant, wouldn’t it?

    But let’s face it, virtually no one uses a computer that way anymore. So the government looks at information as it moves across the web. Now I’m not knowledgeable about how the GFW works in terms of where they cut off the flow of information, but I’m sure we have commentators that can fill us in. Do governments filter at the ISP level? I believe there are European governments that have gone after P2P piracy through the ISPs. I know they tried that in the States but I don’t believe it panned out legally. China also controls the flow of information through search engine censorship, which seems to be pretty effective. But can’t you still get around that? If I have a VPN, use a proxy server and encrypt my emails, I can usually breach any censor wall. I once read how to hide your IP address and it worked perfectly. I didn’t bother with it, just wanted to see how it worked.

    Is the popularity of VPN causing this increase in security on the computer level? I”m not sure what initially drove this program when they wanted it to be mandatory. My guess if that if there is a censorship bureaucracy, they will always push for more censorship since that is their occupation. Censors always want to censor more than they currently can.

    I don’t think people would be as incensed with censorship on the ISP level, and I expect there is some censorship on that level already.

    “Cloud computing” is a good point. As more and more data moves from the computer to the net, the protection of that data becomes an issue. Anything that compromises that data is an issue. The creation and movement of that data to the online storage point becomes an issue. For instance, I back up my files with “A Drive”, a free online service that gives me 50 GB of online storage space. I don’t have any personal information backed up because I don’t trust their security, nor do I have any company information on there. I use it for photos and non-critical documents. Too often, “protected” online files get hacked into and information stolen. However, I’m not sure how “cloud computing” relates to internet surfing. They seem to be two different entities to me.

    Thinking more about it, I remember reading yesterday that though the Green Dam software isn’t mandatory and can be provided either pre-installed or on a CD per customer preference, the government said that pre-installed set up files for the program are mandatory. Isn’t a “pre-installed set up file” a computer program, and can be manipulated if desired? Could one of our programmer commentators address that issue?

    @ R4000: Why would government snooping be more effective on the ISP end rather than the computer end? How would it control users on a VPN? Can’t I just encrypt my emails before sending to the ISP? Won’t a proxy server defeat that system?

    Why did they do it on the personal computer level? In my opinion, because they could. They’re a bureaucracy, and that’s what ALL bureaucracies do… push the limits. I’ve never heard of a bureaucracy that was satisfied with their power and jurisdiction and didn’t want more. In this case, I think they just overreached and had to back down.

  51. Charles Liu Says:

    SD Steve, “I remember reading yesterday that though the Green Dam software isn’t mandatory and can be provided either pre-installed or on a CD per customer preference, the government said that pre-installed set up files for the program are mandatory.”

    – Again, please show citation so I can be enlightened on what the Chinese government said setup files. Again, the 5/19 announcemnet where everyone is referencing the word “preinstalled” in page 1, actually provided the definition of “preinstalled” on page 2 paragraph 2, that presintall means on hard drive or on disk. It mentions recovery files, where reasonable read shows it’s referring to the preinstall scenario.

    – Again, there’s absolutely no mandate for the end user to run Green Dam or its setup. If there is please show me. How is it government/buracratic censorship when people have the freedom to not use this program?

    – You need a 101 course on setup.exe. Weither on hard drive or CD, it does nothing until you run it. I have not read any mandate for PC makers to auto run Green Dam or setup, only that it is availble with the Computer (preinstalled or on CD per 5/19 memo). If there is please show me.

  52. Charles Liu Says:

    More on the UM security test. I was not able to reproduce the crash they claimed:

    – I installed Green Dam on my home computer (Windows 7, IE 8, MS Defender, Morrow anti-virus.)

    – The UM test page containing the malicious URL was inaccessible. Green Dam didn’t even let me go there, let alone crash the browser or system.

    – If UM test disabled conventional security measures such as anti-virus and firewall, rendering the PC vulnerable to exploit, then their test is not valid. Green Dam is a content filtering software that is meant to run along side other safeguards, and never claimed to be a replacement.

  53. foobar Says:

    So no one has found the software title ridiculously hilarious, or is it too obvious?

  54. Charles Liu Says:

    Not really, because if you read it in Chinese it sounds okay. As to the literal translation, sure it sounds funny in English, that’s because it’s somewhat out of context. On top of that those lacking cultural accuman makes assumptions about other’s culture, language, etc.

  55. Steve Says:

    @ Charles #51: You wrote, “Again, please show citation so I can be enlightened on what the Chinese government said setup files.”

    My comment #28 had an link to a China Daily article where a government official said it. I even pasted in his comment. If you missed it, here it is again:

    A government official said this today, “PC makers are only required to save the setup files of the program in the hard drives of the computers, or provide CD-ROMs containing the program with their PC packages,” according to China Daily. “The government’s role is limited to having the software developed and providing it free.”

    Unless I’m missing something here, doesn’t “required to save the setup files of the program in the hard drives of the computers” mean those setup files are pre-installed?

    No one except you is talking about the 5/19 announcement, I’m talking about the announcement you can reference in the Xinhua article dated 6/10. Again, I deliberately pasted the pertinent quotation, “The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said Tuesday the country would have all new computers produced or sold after July 1 pre-installed with filter software packages, which could filter porn words and images to protect minors from “unhealthy” information.” I added the Bold on “pre-installed”.

    So are you saying the MIIT quotation is not accurate? Are you saying Xinhua is a western media propaganda piece? Charles, I’m not trying to be difficult but I’m not following you at all here. This all seems pretty black and white to me.

    And yes, as of yesterday there is no government mandate to run Green Dam or its set up. That’s what I’ve been saying for the last two days, and why I said this is no longer an issue and we should move on to other points. Why do you keep bringing it up?

    I called a friend of mine who owns a software company and is very knowledgeable in programming. He said that companies like Dell and HP would load this program on to their computers directly from a server and the only way spyware could get on the hard drive would be if they allowed it or someone ran the .exe command on a program containing spyware. So yes, you are correct, if the program is not executed, there is no chance any spyware will run on your computer.

    I have no idea how the University of Michigan did what they did. All I know is that they did it in 12 hours. If it was Podunk University I might be suspicious, but U of M is one of the best universities in the country. Giving this software to his class as an exercise doesn’t sound suspicious or media driven to me, it sounds like an interesting exercise and something I might do in his place. It might be in conjunction with one of the hardware manufacturers; that’s not unusual either.

    Charles, it doesn’t matter why it was done, what matters is how the software worked. Did you download your version after they patched it? I have no idea. I also have no reason to doubt their test results.

  56. Charles Liu Says:

    Steve, “And yes, as of yesterday there is no government mandate to run Green Dam”

    There was NEVER a mandate for end users to run Green Dam. If there is show me, as I’ve read otherwise.

    You seem to have changes your “as of yesterday” claim from preinstall to also running it?

    Why are you ignoring the fact your quote goes on and states “or provide CD-ROMs containing the program”? This OR proves the PC makers have the option to not preinstall, but make it available in the CD.

    Check my comments and post on FM – I make a point to not quote Xinhua. All the sources you provided is talking about the 5/19 announcement from MIIB, which clearly defined “preinstall” as “preinstall on PC or put in CD” per page 2 paragraph 2 of the announcement.

    Do you know if the UM students disabled AV and firewall? I tried it and couldn’t duplicate their result. Did you try it?

    Here’s a cmment from a CRI listener that I agree with:


    “我看到外电,原本是保护青少年的措施被西方记者描上了重重的政治色彩,什么中国政府不想保护信息自由,审查要加强等等。我想应该让这些记者安上Green Dam,绿坝试试,真不装上不想用也没事。这软件还有个功能呢,叫开关”

    – western reporters are coloring this news with politics
    – this software has a feature called “turn on, turn off”

  57. Steve Says:

    @ Charles: Did you get enough sleep last night? This isn’t like you at all.

    Steve, “And yes, as of yesterday there is no government mandate to run Green Dam”
    There was NEVER a mandate for end users to run Green Dam. If there is show me, as I’ve read otherwise.

    The edict from the government came out on 6/8, which was when the computer manufacturers were informed they had to have this software installed by 7/1. Why do you keep bringing up 5/19? It’s irrelevant to the discussion. I’ve given you a direct quotation from the Xinhua article. How do you interpret “pre-installed with software filter packages”?

    You seem to have changes your “as of yesterday” claim from preinstall to also running it?

    Not sure what you mean here. As of yesterday, the software was no longer mandatory but voluntary. Before yesterday, the hardware manufacturer was required to install the software, not just the set up, similar to most computers having Microsoft Office pre-installed when they buy their computer.

    Why are you ignoring the fact your quote goes on and states “or provide CD-ROMs containing the program”? This OR proves the PC makers have the option to not preinstall, but make it available in the CD.

    That quote was from yesterday’s announcement. As of yesterday, manufacturers can use either method. The published dates are provided in the articles. Why is this confusing?

    Check my comments and post on FM – I make a point to not quote Xinhua. All the sources you provided is talking about the 5/19 announcement from MIIB, which clearly defined “preinstall” as “preinstall on PC or put in CD” per page 2 paragraph 2 of the announcement.

    Just because you don’t want to quote Xinhua doesn’t make them an unreliable source. All the sources I provided do NOT talk about the 5/19 announcement from MIIB. In fact, none of them do. You’re the only one who has ever mentioned 5/19 in this entire thread. If you believe Xinhua is unreliable, then tell me what sources you believe ARE reliable. I don’t particularly care if you like one source better than another. I’m not doing research for you; you can do it yourself.

    Do you know if the UM students disabled AV and firewall? I tried it and couldn’t duplicate their result. Did you try it?

    No, I did not try it because I don’t have any expertise in that field and am not qualified to make a judgment. As I told you before, I have confidence in the University of Michigan. You obviously don’t. Why don’t you write them and discuss it if you don’t believe them? As I’ve said in the past, I’m a hardware guy, not a software guy. And if they were wrong, then why did the Chinese government order Green Dam to patch the software issues? How can you patch something if it works fine?

    Charles, I’d still place more confidence on something from one of the best universities in the United States to the comment of a CRI listener. You wouldn’t. That’s fine with me. His quote was an opinion, nothing more. You are always asking for proof, yet this comment offers none.

    You’re coloring this news with stubbornness. You ask me for references, I give them to you and you either don’t read them, misquote them, won’t believe them or give them incorrect time frames though the dates are listed in each article. You ask me questions about what the UM students came up with when you know I cannot possibly know the answers, and neither can you. You won’t accept quotes from Chinese government officials. You don’t believe articles from Xinhua. You assume every quote I give is based on the 5/19 release, even when they are obviously based on the 6/8, 6/9 and 6/16 announcements. Then you blame “western reporters” for an issue that has generated a huge response from Chinese netizens over Chinese websites, most of whom I’m sure don’t understand English. I can’t answer your questions when they make no sense. I researched the set up files and found you were correct, and told you so.

    I don’t mind answering a question once, but I’m not going to answer the same question six times. If you can’t figure this one out, fine. I can live with it.

  58. Charles Liu Says:

    Steve, according to China Daily: “PC users have the ‘final say’ over installing the filter and recent reports of the government compelling them to use the software was “a misunderstanding”, the official said.

    And I’ll provide the official statement from MIIB (page 2, paragraph 2 – definiton of “preinstall”) dated 5/19, proving the reports around 6/8 are inaccurate:

    http://rconversation.blogs.com/notification.pdf (Please note this document is sourced from GD detractor)

    Lastly, having it preinstalled doesn’t mean the end user has to run it (there’s no “autorun” madate) making your insinuation that preinstalled meaning end user must run it, to be false.

    As to the UM test, I’m an IT professional and I can confidently say I was not able to duplicate the crash they claimed under reasonable circumstances.

  59. SD Steve Says:

    @ Charles: My guess is that “misunderstanding” is a way of saving face, but no way to prove it so I can accept your viewpoint. As far as the meaning of pre-installed, I agree that it would not mean “auto-run” but unlike a set up file, I thought that pre-installed software could contain activated spyware. Is this true?

    I believe you when you say you could not duplicate the crash but I also believe the UM test to be valid. If there were no problems with the software, why would the Chinese government order Green Dam to patch it?

  60. Allen Says:

    @Steve #50,

    You wrote:

    However, I’m not sure how “cloud computing” relates to internet surfing. They seem to be two different entities to me.

    I mentioned “cloud computing” only because of the many discussions emphasizing that the software is to be installed on one’s “personal computer.” My point is that focusing on what is a “personal computer” – an entity that is supposedly sacrosanct – is a red herring because as technology progresses, more and more of what we consider to be our “personal computer” will begin to reside more and more on the network.

    Sorry about confusing the issue.

  61. raventhorn4000 Says:

    For the lawyer in me, I would not put any private information on a computer connected to the net.

    (I would do this kind of security for my clients.)

    Paper files in security vaults is still the safest way. (regardless of how troublesome it can be.)

    It is far too easy for a government to get a warrant for “probable cause” to get records of network communications through the ISP’s. DMCA, Online Child Pornography Laws, Patriot Act, etc. All they need is 1 valid justification, and once they start digging, if they should discover something completely unrelated in your network communication, they can still use it against you in court.

  62. Charles Liu Says:

    Steve, I’m sorry if I’m arguing too much. But IMHO this thing really is blown out of porprotion – by Chinese and US media/netters alike.

    I just noticed your tag line on top – do you really thing this is not about protecting childern, rather it’s about FLG, Tibet, TAM, etc.?

  63. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Netters blowing things out of proportion. That’s pretty common.

    If Media wants to help with that, perhaps they should look up area 51 again.

  64. SD Steve Says:

    Allen, I agree that more and more computing will take place online, but I share R4000’s skepticism as to that information staying private.

    Charles, for me it’s news but nothing especially earth shattering. I don’t really think it’s blown out of proportion except if you search Google News for it, then it seems like it’s being blown out of proportion. The intent of my post was really how to accomplish the objective in a less intrusive way.

    I added FLG, Tibet and TAM to the tag line because some of the news articles talked about this program blocking sites with those key words. That’s the only reason. You should know me well enough by now to know I’m no fan of FLG. Because it was part of the story, I added those references.

    R4000: Everyone knows that the US government no longer controls Area 51, it has been taken over by the New World Order, the Trilateral Commission, Illuminati and the Bilderberg Group. In it they house the documents proving the Philadelphia Experiment, how the FBI and Israeli government planned and executed 9/11, and who REALLY killed JFK. They even have a list detailing the Clinton Body Count. Their laboratories created AIDS. They fluoridated the water supply to control our minds. Their leader? Barack Hussein Obama!!

    It must be true; Alex Jones said so…

  65. raventhorn4000 Says:


    It is time to douse yourself with gasoline.

    But don’t like the match, because that would be illegal, and I, for professional reasons, cannot advise anyone to commit suicide. (That’s what media is for.)

  66. Charles Liu Says:

    Raven, Steve is just kidding.

    BTW, another point that is consistently misinfromed in our media is Green Dam can send user information back to The Mothership – no it doesn’t. Green Dam does not send user’s internet usage or online activity back to the authority. It is only logged and kept on the local machine for the parents to look.

    Green Dam does not call The Mothership or do any sort of “ET phone home”.

  67. SD Steve Says:

    @ R4000: I tried to cover every conspiracy theory I could think of on that one. 😀

    @ Charles: I think most reporters can turn on their computers, surf reasonably well and know how to use Microsoft Word. Outside of that, they’re technical idiots.

    Ground Control to Major Tom
    Take your protein pills and put your helmet on

  68. S.K. Cheung Says:

    “another point that is consistently misinfromed in our media is Green Dam can send user information back to The Mothership – no it doesn’t.”
    — for that, we’ll have to wait for v2.0

  69. raventhorn4000 Says:


    I was kidding back with Steve. 🙂


    You forgot the Pyramid on Mars, and the City of Atlantis. Or are those too close to Doctor Who and Stargate?


    I thought that was Windows 7, with its perpetual patches and Microsoft “User Experience” tool. 🙂

  70. SD Steve Says:

    @ R4000: In order to make my list, there needs to be several YouTube exposes, preferably by Alex Jones. Of course, China is part of the New World Order. What you read in the media is just a ruse. You earthlings actually think you control the destiny of your planet? Ha ha! We are in control; you are out of control. Your papers, please…

    And don’t forget our favorite, Windows Genuine Advantage! Thank you Windows, for forcing me to install useless data to clog up my hard drive so YOU know I don’t have a pirated copy of XP. Me thinks my next computer will be an Apple. I’m ready to make the switch.

    In the NY Times this morning, they ran this story. Apparently, when they contacted Dell and HP, they found out that the “optional” statement released two days ago isn’t accurate. “The directive makes it clear that the government intends to ensure Green Dam be installed and used on new computers and even preserved in a backup version if the computer crashes.”

    Also in the article was this interesting tidbit:

    “Meanwhile, in another sign that Chinese officials are trying to assert more control over the Internet, the city of Beijing wants to recruit 10,000 volunteers by the end of the summer to monitor Internet content, said Ms. Guo, an employee of the Beijing government’s Spiritual Civilization Office.

    The plan was presented in a document submitted Tuesday by the Beijing Internet Administration Office during a meeting in which city officials discussed “purifying social civilization,” said Ms. Guo, who would give only her surname. She said she had no additional details on the plan.”

    So China Daily apparently screwed up. Don’t trust that Chinese media! 😛

  71. raventhorn4000 Says:


    You know you are not quite soup yet. The China Phase is after all that.

    Yeah, Windows Genuine. But don’t be too comfortable with Apple. Ipods break every time you try to play any format other than iTune. It’s only a matter of time.

    And I don’t know much about the “purifying social civilization” bit, sounds like a really awful translation of some Chinese phrase, and completely lost its original meaning.

    The “Beijing Spiritual Civilization Office”.

    Sounds like a Masonic Temple.


  72. Steve Says:

    Oh, don’t believe me?

    I rest my case!

    P.S. Incidentally, have you ever seen Hu Jintao display ANY emotion???? Think about it….

  73. TonyP4 Says:

    From the yardstick on democracy from the west, China has a long way to go. However, compared to 30 years or even 20 years ago, democracy movement in China has been advanced in leaps and bounds (with exception of TSM).

    Wishful thinking. It takes a little time for China to catch up with democracy to the wealth of the country. When folks are rich, they will enjoy material stuffs, and then need to enjoy freedom. China tolerated HK’s style of democracy and it is a good thing. It would set up a good example to lure Taiwan back to the mother land.

    China is quite rational and acts according to the standard of developed countries I hope. It is important to control the unrest of the country esp. the educated class in the other hand. From the recent memorial of TSM in Beijing and HK, I would say China tries to forget TSM (via education, news…). No one can cover up history in today’s info world. I accuse the Japanese in hiding the ugly events of Nanjing massacre and we have one in our back yard.

  74. Charles Liu Says:

    SKC @ 68, “for that, we’ll have to wait for v2.0”

    If you seen any evidence to this effect please cite it. I have not heard anything that indicates the end users has to run it; they are free to not install the app, turn the application off, or uninstall it.

    Quite the opposit, Chinese officials have said web filtering softwer will not be used to monitor netizens, installation will not be mandatory:

    “工信部:上网过滤软件不监控网民 不强制安装” – MIIB: Online Filtering Sowftware Will Not Monitor Citizen, Will Not Force Installation

    Steve @ 70, Chinese officials just said foreign PC makers such as Dell are not required to preinstall Green Dam due to the law suit broght by Solid Oak:

    “有些国外厂商,比如戴尔,据我所知将不会遵守这一规定” – to my knowledge, some foreign manufacturers such as Dell, will not follow this rule

    Again, our media is proven misinformed. After so much neglegence and misinformation, IMHO it is no longer a mistake, but intentional.

  75. Steve Says:

    @ Charles #74: I’m quickly coming to the conclusion that we’ll all need to wait until July 1st to see what the actual requirement is. Apparently, these same Chinese officials haven’t bothered to inform Dell or HP yet. I don’t always trust the NYT when it comes to reporting in China, but I trust them far more when it comes to reporting what American companies say. We’ll just have to wait and see, since the story seems to change on a day to day basis.

  76. huaren Says:


    1. The fact that the “Western” media overblows this thing is going to piss off the Chinese. Further discrediting the “Western” media in the Chinese eyes.

    2. Man, it’s the 21st century – you would have figure the Chinese ministries would learned that something as pervasive as this – there’d be tons of implications – to computer companies, remote areas, etc.. I hope some people responsible get fired.
    – They need to manage expectations.
    – They need to have this thing more thought out.

    Its funny – I think China is paying much better attention at dealing with the swine flu than the U.S. – mainly because of their recent memories of SARS. I’d bet it takes a SARS in the U.S. for it to deal with a swine flu more urgently.

    My point is, we as a population are pretty stupid. We tend to only learn from our own mistakes and not others mistakes.

    And, as usual, to the likes of NYT, what a bunch of lamo. They make the U.S. population stupid on the world stage.

  77. Charles Liu Says:

    Steve, the actual requirement is spelled out in the original 5/19 MIIB announcement document I cited, which EVERYONE is misquoting. The reason you noticed the story changing day to day is because the reporting has never been accurate.

    if you trust what the Amercan companies are saying, please cite some DIRECT QUOTE from Dell. What you’ve provided is hearsay from NYT. It’s entirely resonable to see how Dell would bitch and moan, and NYT would blow it out of porprotion.

    Meanwhile, I’ve found more interview on Baidu that explains this whole thing. Appearantly 1) the term “preinstall” isn’t the right translation; 2) the government mandate was never to have the filter application on computer, only the setup for the filter application available to people who purchase a computer:


    There is difference between “preinstall/预装” and “install/安装” in Chinese, and “preinstall” is not in the sense we are thinking. This renders the the 5/19 MIIB announcement page 2 paragraph 2 completely sensical – the mandate is setup for Green Dam should be available on hard drive or CD:

    “按照预装绿色过滤软件通知的要求,这款软件预装在电脑的硬盘或者随机的光盘中,要发挥作用还需按照安装程序进行激活” – according to the requirements in green filter software notification, the [installation] software is preinstalled on computer hard drive or CD, to activate it still require following the installation program.

    There, Green Dam setup has to be avalable on hard drive or CD, not the filter application itself. And end users are not required to install it or run it.

  78. SD Steve Says:

    @ Charles: I accept your explanation but it raises a couple of questions in my mind. Why would Xinhua and China Daily use such a poor English translation if they represent the Chinese government viewpoint? And why would they misquote or quote from unauthorized sources?

    I know you can’t stand the NY Times, but “hearsay” wouldn’t get the story past the editor. The reporter has to have sources in order to get it printed. His/her sources might turn out in the end to be unreliable, but they are still needed. To say the NYT or any major reputable media source would publish a story without meeting their own editorial guidelines and procedures is misinformed.

    Now… FOX News? I wouldn’t use the word “reputable” in their case.

  79. raventhorn4000 Says:


    LOL, on Obama Vulcan.

    But every one knows that Romulans look just like Vulcans, and Obama is so emotional, he can’t possibly be a Vulcan.

  80. raventhorn4000 Says:


    The NYT link to the China Daily article is broken. I don’t know if it was broken at 1st, or just broke now.

    But NYT wrote, “quoted an unnamed official in the software department of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology saying that the government was requiring that the software be offered on a CD packaged with new computers or be placed on hard drives as set-up files only.”

    That’s the only place in the NYT article, where China Daily was supposedly quoted.

  81. raventhorn4000 Says:

    It looks like HRIC was the 1st one to provide a translation of of the MIIT bulletin (since they claimed credit for the translation), and a pretty awful translation at that. (But note that HRIC at least disclaimed their translation as “unofficial translation”. NYT just took it straight without any disclaimer on the translation.)


    (1) 文明办, is translated as “Civilization Office”, which is just so amateurish. 文明 could mean either “civilization” or “culture”. The more correct contextual translation should have been “Culture Office”, or “Cultural Development Office”.

    But why this translation? Well, if you run 文明办 through Google Translate, you get “Civilization Office”!

    (2) the full name of the office is listed down at the bottom of HRIC’s page, full name of the office is 中共中央精神文明建设办公室, which contextually, should be translated as “Chinese Central Office of Intellectual Cultural Development”.

    While 精神 translated by itself means “spirit”, here the context is not religious, but rather intellectual.

    So if you run “精神文明建设办公室” through Google translation, you will get “Spiritual Civilization office”. Which is completely silly and devoid of all contextual meaning of the Original Chinese term.

    The better translation should be “Office of Intellectual Cultural Development”.

    HRIC must be getting pretty desperate, if they can’t even find a half-decent native Chinese reader/speaker to do their translation work.

  82. SD Steve Says:

    @R4000: Thanks for the info. Seems strange, though. The NY Times reporter on this story is Edward Wong, who speaks Chinese. You’d think he’d be able to edit the translation accurately.

    “Office of Intellectual Cultural Development”? Even translated correctly, it’s a pretty strange name for a bureaucracy.

    BTW, Obama is only half Vulcan. Vulcans shoot hoops while Romulans play table tennis. Hu Jintao never shows emotion, plays table tennis, hmm…..

  83. raventhorn4000 Says:


    It looks like the guy just took the HRIC translation without even looking through it. Word by word. Either he doesn’t read Chinese, or he was just lazy.

    “Office of Intellectual Cultural Development”, about as strange as the “U.S. Agency for International Development”, or “National Endowment for Democracy”. (Or the “Alcohol Tobacco Firearms agency”, I mean, what is that all about? How do alcohol, tobacco, and firearms get stuck under 1 agency? Why not “Tomato Airplanes Internet Agency”?)

    I mean, just compare the bureaucratic boasting, at least China doesn’t claim to try to “develop” “internationally”.

    Yes, I’m quite aware of the Star Trek reference of Vulcans and Romulans as mildly suggestive of Taiwan and China.

  84. Charles Liu Says:

    Is Eddie boy there ABC or FOB?

  85. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Edward Wong (Chinese name: 黃安偉)

    Looks like he’s an ABC with rusty knowledge of Chinese.

    His profile says he went to Taiwan in 2007 to brush up on his Mandarin for 10 months.

    I don’t know how much improvement 1 can expect in 10 months. Usually, if you are not a native speaker, it would take between 2-5 years to get used to all the contextual linguistic nuances.

    So I doubt his Chinese skill is sufficient enough to pick out errors in HRIC’s translation.

  86. Charles Liu Says:

    I just love how our media is howing its bias with this issue so clearly:

    – when US DoJ launched online filter/monitor software (McGruff SafeGuard), NOT ONE media outlet expressed concern over censorship:

    http://news.google.com/archivesearch?q=McGruff+SafeGuard+censor (0 articles w/ word ‘censor’)

    – However when the Chinese government does it, it’s “censorware”, ignoring the fact only setup is provided, and end users are under no obligation to run it, filters are 100% customizable:

    http://news.google.com/news?q=Green+Dam+censor (1356 articles w/ word ‘censor’)

  87. SD Steve Says:

    @ Charles: Not sure. All his education is here and his English is native quality so if he wasn’t born here, he must have come over at an early age. Per Wiki, Wong graduated from the University of Virginia in 1994 with a B.A. in English. In 1999, he earned dual master’s degrees in journalism and international studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

    He also did a ten-month sabbatical where he spent time at Middlebury College and the International Chinese Language Program (ICLP) in Taiwan improving his Mandarin, so it’s not his primary language though he has studied it. My guess would be that he’s pretty fluent.

    But why would his birthplace be relevant? I know plenty of ABC’s that speak and read Mandarin fluently.

    @ R4000: Vulcan and Romulan are mildly suggestive of Taiwan and China? That’s a new one on me. Vlucans are logical and peaceful while Romulans are aggressive and warlike. Vulcan is independent of the Romulan Empire. Is this some kind of DPP theory?? 😀

  88. raventhorn4000 Says:


    That program lasted only for 10 months. That’s not nearly enough to “improve Mandarin”.

    Additionally, that program in Taiwan teaches only traditional Chinese characters. Even if Edward Wong improved significantly, he would still have problems recognizing simplified Chinese character.

    Birthplace would be relevant to indicate the level of his Chinese skill when he was young. So to gauge how much he could improve in 10 months.

    Yes, Gene Roddenbury took historical Cold War references in his construction of the Star Trek Universe. It was suggested that he modeled Vulcans and Romulans after Taiwan and China, because of the historical split between the 2, after a civil war.

    That also Vulcans became allies of the Federation, (aka United States of the future), whereas the Romulans became a Cold War opponent of the Federation.

    Vulcan’s logical and peaceful nature (and Romulans’ treacherous/war through deception nature, of course, you can see the reference to Chinese Art of War here) was supposedly Roddenbury’s own dramatic addition to the characters, but independent of the historical analogies.

  89. SD Steve Says:

    @ R4000: Thanks for the explanation of Star Trek. I never even had an inkling that there was any references to Taiwan and China in there. I just remember when it first came on TV (yes, I’m a fossil) Roddenberry called it a “Wagon Train in space”. Did Roddenberry actually say that about Taiwan and China, or did someone come up with it after he died?

    I can’t read Chinese but I know my wife can read simplified characters and my colleagues in China could all read traditional characters. I always figured it was more difficult to go from simplified to traditional rather than the other direction. I guess my point about Wong was that if he spoke Chinese at home and learned the characters on Saturdays like most ABCs do in San Diego, he was just going for a refresher before taking on the Beijing assignment. He was really more well known for his reporting in Iraq, so the guy has guts since at that time, it was a very dangerous place for a reporter to be assigned.

  90. raventhorn4000 Says:


    I think some fans speculated to Roddenberry’s references for the species in Star Trek.

    Of course, other writers had similar kinds of references. for example, Lord of Ring species were modeled after European Nations of WWI, because the writer lived through that time.

    Whether Wong had guts or not is a different issue, but for ABC’s in general, unless they were immersed in Chinese all throughout their childhood, it’s very difficult for them to “brush up”.

    My wife tutors Chinese for a lot of adults, many ABC’s in California have less than elementary school level Chinese.

    Especially for a journalist like Wong, who makes a living writing in English. He’s probably not in the habit of regularly reading and writing Chinese material. Without continual practice, I doubt he would have more than a 3rd grade level Chinese language skill.

    And 10 months in Taiwan? That’s just a give away that he didn’t feel skilled enough in Chinese language. Most fluent speakers/readers would not need to go that far to get “brushed up”.

    I, myself, keep up my Chinese skill by just reading Chinese newspapers, etc, because I already know the language, and I just need the refresher every now and then.

  91. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Charles:
    “Quite the opposit, Chinese officials have said web filtering softwer will not be used to monitor netizens, ”
    —what would you expect them to say?

    To Steve:
    me too. My next computer will be an iMac. I’m not even running Vista, but my XP still decides to crash from time to time just for kicks. Safari feels about the same as IE, just without the security issues. And I wouldn’t have to pay for Norton every year.

  92. Steve Says:

    UPDATE: Its moved to the Search Engine level. Today, the Chinese government ordered Google to clean up its act.

    Google Inc. said Friday that it was working to block pornography reaching users of its Chinese service after a mainland watchdog found the search engine turned up large numbers of links to obscene and vulgar sites.

    Google said in a statement that company officials had met government representatives “to discuss problems with the Google.cn service and its serving of pornographic images and content based on foreign language searches.

    “We have been continually working to deal with pornographic content — and material that is harmful to children — on the Web in China,” the statement said.

    The statement followed accusations from the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center that Google had failed to “filter pornographic contents from its search engine results according to China’s relevant laws and regulations.”

    The University of Michigan has looked at the patched version of Green Dam and quickly found another vulnerability that allowed them to take control of a computer using the software.

    Charles, I’m sure you’ll have something to say about all this… 😉

  93. Steve Says:

    @ R4000 #90: I’ve also read in several places that Tolkien freely acknowledged he based the battle scenes in LOTR on his experiences in WWI. The Star Trek one was new to me, though.

    Guessing the level of Wong’s Chinese skills is just that, a guess. Even if his language skills are limited, he’s in the NYT Beijing office where I’m sure they have native editors and translators. That’s why it seemed strange to me that they would use an HRIC translation.

    @ SKC#91: I also still use XP. When was the last time you re-formatted your hard drive? I do it once a year and it always speeds things up a lot and pretty much eliminates the crashing. My younger brother, who has his masters in E.E. and is a computer whiz for the government, told me to do that years ago. For surfing, I use Firefox and haven’t had any problems with it, though I hear Google Chrome is faster.

    You pay for Norton? Why not use one of the free ones like Avast! or AVG? When I switched from Norton to Avast! (AVG slowed my system down too much), it immediately found things that were invisible to Norton. It updates automatically though the first thing I did was to turn off the voice telling me it had updated, drove me crazy. I also use CC Cleaner (works fast), Advanced Systems Care (more thorough) and Smart Defrag. I’m sure one of our software commentators will recommend something better, but the combination of those seems to work pretty well for me.

  94. miaka9383 Says:

    After reading all of these news articles, it is getting blown out of proportion. Though UDN did have a report on the Green Dam. The article pretty much states CCP’s change in attitude is due to the massive amount of Chinese Netizens protesting.(Maybe the Chinese Netizens have more power than they think they do???)

    I use XP and Vista and I have no problem with it what so ever except the patches clogging up my harddrive. I will probably reformat once I graduate and have the time to do so and back up all of my programs that I have created over the years. I see no problem using Microsoft at all since it comes on the computers that I buy. I am with SKC the next computer I buy will be MacBook. It is so convenient to ssh into a machine and start programming in VIM. Mac and Linux definitely offers better security than Windows. But if you are looking for a decent antivirus/spyware I recommend Kaspersky. You have to pay for it but it is so much better than AVG or McCafee ….
    That is just my 2 cents….

  95. Charles Liu Says:

    Steve @ 92, mind if I respond to the OT subject in Open Thread? Or you can create another blogpost, I’d be happy to comment.

    It’s pretty clear to me Chinese people were never required to install or use Green Dam, based on the evidence I’ve seen so far.

  96. raventhorn4000 Says:


    Strange that they would virtually plagiarize the unofficial translation of HRIC without double checking the translation? I would say that’s just laziness and sloppiness. But why would they care? They get paid for making it sound as awful and bad as it possibly get.

  97. Charles Liu Says:

    Raven, the consistent pattern we’ve seen doesn’t lead to lazy or passive journalism. IMHO at this point it’s deliberate. To be blunt, the only way to deal with anti-sinoism in our media is for us the media consumers to be vigilant, and voice our objection, highlight it when we see it.

  98. Steve Says:

    @ Charles: Sure, Open Thread works fine. I’m not sure it’s worth a full post.

    @ miaka: Agree about Kapersky; they’re pretty much acknowledged to be the best. Avast! has worked fine for me so far, but I’m usually pretty careful about where I surf and what I download. I’ve been very lucky to have avoided viruses over the years. I always install two hard drives on my home computer so I can back up to one while re-formatting the other; it’s really convenient. For my next computer, I’m going to switch to an external hard drive for security reasons, while still making it easy to re-format.

    @ R4000: Why would they get paid to make it sound as awful and bad as it could possibly get? Are you saying that the reporters in China are ordered by the NY Times editors to deliberately slant the news from China and that the paper has no legitimacy? If so, can you recommend other media outlets that you think highly of, as pug_ster did recently?

    Incidentally, I agree with pug_ster about Asia Times, though I don’t see how Al Jazeera is much different from the western press excepting news from the Middle East, as shown in this article which echoes what the western press has reported about Green Dam.

  99. Charles Liu Says:

    Steve, per the citations I’ve provided you, it’s obvious the Chinese media has reported more details that explained the mandate (setup only, option on CD-ROM, reassurance end users are not required to run it.)

    As it seems our media have collectively fell silent on the flip side of the coin, opting to continue with errornous reporting like “censorware” (filter is configuragle, no calling mothership feature, completely optional), and focusing on software bugs that exists in every piece of software ever written.

  100. Steve Says:

    Charles, I wasn’t referring to this particular issue only, but media in general. I don’t think the Chinese media is particularly objective since it’s controlled by the government and reports what it is allowed to report. I know your opinion of American media. Today we heard the Imam’s opinion of British media.

    But when I quoted from Xinhua and China Daily, you said you didn’t care much for Xinhua. Why not? Isn’t it Chinese media? If Xinhua wasn’t accurate, doesn’t that contradict what you just wrote? And wouldn’t Chinese media be obligated to report exactly what you said they reported, since that is the public stance of the government? If this software is only designed to block porn, then why does it also block FLG and other sensitive political issues, and why wasn’t that mentioned in the Chinese media?

    I don’t read Chinese so I have no comment on Chinese media in general, just Chinese media printed in English. Since it’s government controlled, I would assume it’d be very similar to the rest of Chinese media.

    If software bugs exist in every piece of software ever written (which I agree with), then why is the Chinese government demanding that Green Dam immediately patch the system? To make it a government edict would seem to say that the bugs are pretty big, and that they have also been confirmed by Chinese programmers.

    I would say, a pox on both their houses.

  101. raventhorn4000 Says:


    Let’s just say that some people do profit from willful ignorance and look the other way, so they have no motive to double check for errors committed by half-ass translations by HRIC.

    Why would they? They just have to meet the minimum requirement of journalist sources. Why would they bother to double check the translations?

    Hell, maybe Edward Wong actually did check the translation, and told the editors about the error, and got shot down. You think old Eddie there has the integrity to tell his bosses at NYT, “Change it or I’ll quit!!”??

    I don’t know, NYT job, or couple of lousy translations on a story that everyone is already going along with?

    I have yet to hear anyone in any Western Media have enough integrity to openly say something about mistakes on China.

    Just as a side note and an example: Stephen Glass of the New Republic, fabricated stories for publication for 3 years without any of his coworkers and his boss challenging him. (Even though it would have taken only minimal fact checking to find his lies.)

    Why? The minimal journalist “source check” is a joke. Stephen Glass was able to fabricate his “sources”, by exploiting the system.

    I’ll believe in the journalistic integrity of such media when someone actually stop BS’ing their way through a China story with these awful translations.

    When I see such a translation, I know right away it’s just another sensationalism, not journalism.

    I don’t care if NYT does it, or some one else. It’s just a plain factual give away: BS translation – sloppy journalism – only care about money.

  102. Steve Says:

    @ R4000: I have no problem with anything you just wrote. I said once before that every time I read an article about something in my profession where I was knowledgeable, it was inaccurate, sometimes wildly so. I’ve asked friends in other professions the same question and they tend to have the same experience that I had. In the beginning I just thought it was because my profession is technical but now I feel it is endemic to the journalistic profession. Even their greatest triumph, Watergate, was strictly one disgruntled FBI director doing all the dirty work. But it sounds like you’re saying that the NYT is sloppy, not that they are out to “get” China or necessarily slanted against China. Am I reading you correctly?

    “When I see such a translation, I know right away it’s just another sensationalism, not journalism.”

    I can usually spot something phony within the first two paragraphs. In this we are agreed.

    But you didn’t answer my question. Which media do you trust? Personally, I have more confidence in magazines like The Atlantic (a lot) or Economist (only sometimes). Their articles are much longer, better researched, etc.

  103. foobar Says:


    Based on the angels taken by the few recent NYT China articles I’ve read, “to make it sound as awful and bad as it could possibly get” may be stretching a bit, but probably not by much.

    The “odd name” story and the Draconian, bureaucracy angle:

    The “Kashgar revamp” story and the ‘cultural genocide’ angle:


    Curious you mentioned Glass instead of NYT’s very own Blair.

  104. Steve Says:

    foobar~ I’m glad you brought these two examples up. To me, these are examples of a cross-cultural clash, where each culture interprets the others actions based on their own cultural definitions. Neither of these articles would deem to “insult” China from a western POV, but if a Chinese person read them, they would feel they had been insulted. Since the NY Times is written for a western and not Chinese audience, why would they practice a Chinese cultural sensibility?

    This also goes the other way. Westerners might read something written or said by a Chinese source and completely misinterpret it based on their own culture. The advent of the internet and ease of reading foreign news sources has contributed not to universal understanding, but more to universal mistrust, because each culture misinterprets what they read based on their own cultural mores and folkways. I’m not sure there’s a cure for this one.

  105. foobar Says:


    I’m not sure ‘cultural sensibility’ is the right word. Nor do I feel insulted — if anything, they insulted their own intelligence. Take the name story for example, is it that difficult for a westerner to relate? Nobody ever had any problem to get his name spelt right in official documents, if it happens to contain an umlaut, an apostrophe, a caret, or any other diacritics? What if you want your driver’s license to contain an archaic form of some Roman letters? What if you want it in Greek, or Slavic alphabet? What if you want it in Chinese? These I think are rather easy parallels you can draw to help you understand an issue, yet there is no such effort.

    If you want to frame it in terms of cultural sensibility, I don’t think it’s the insensibility of the western reporter or audience toward another culture. In stead, in these cases unfortunately, they choose to turn off their own cultural sensibilities and try to be hyper sensitive to what’s happening in another culture. If they are misinterpretations as you call them, you can almost attach a ‘willful’ qualifier.

    Both articles have a comments section, and almost as expected most comments don’t display sensibilities in any way. They look more like knee-jerk reactions to the mention of bad commie China.

  106. raventhorn4000 Says:


    I don’t know if sloppiness qualifies as “out to get”, but if there is enough ignorance, it is willful and intentional.

    I don’t go for conspiracies, but I have seen enough willful ignorance on the subject of China in the media to be very suspicious of their motives, especially when there is lobbies and money involved.

    *as for which media I trust. I don’t.

    I read them all, I don’t trust any of them. I read every article base upon what I know, and if I learn something new, I double check it with other sources.

    Afterall, I can’t expect journalists to have integrity on facts, if I don’t want to bother to do my own research to some basic fact checks.

  107. Steve Says:

    @ foobar #105: I’d call the “name” story a human interest story. There was nothing in there that seemed unusual to me when I first read it. It seemed to me to present reasons from both sides but if it affects 60 million Chinese people (and I have no idea where they got that number), then it’d seem like a big deal. Only 23 countries in the world even have populations that large. I don’t see what it has to do with an American wanting to have Chinese characters on their birth certificate, etc. The official language in the States is English and in China it’s simplified Chinese characters. In the States, as long as you use letters on a typical keyboard, you can spell it any way you like.

    The nature of Chinese characters would not allow that, so I think there’s a case to be made for both sides. If a typical Chinese computer keyboard could create the character, why regulate it beyond that? That seemed to be the issue. But I don’t see this story as being anything but a typical human interest story. Maybe this is an example of that cross cultural divide? The way it was written made perfect sense to me and I had no problem understanding what the issue was from either side.

    I’d also consider the Xinjiang story to be another human interest story. Are human interest stories unique to western media?

    @ R4K: If no media sources are reliable, that really limits what we can discuss, since just about all the information we have about the outside world is filtered by the media, either ours or theirs. Right now, everything we’re hearing about the Iran election, as an example, has been filtered by one media source or another. It would really limit discussion.

    I always ignore comments sections when they concern Chinese articles. The comments from both pro and anti are some of the most knee-jerk, extremist out there. That’s why I come to FM, where the talk is usually more reasonable.

  108. Charles Liu Says:

    foobar @ 106, I don’t think there’s a “conspiracy” theory either, but we in the West certainly have an “official narrative” on China, or party line if you will, that journalist and academic seldom cross.

    For example, remember that lady reporter in Germany got suspended for sticking up for China on a story?

    And our media’s collective silence on the clarification of this Green Dam distribution issue, and errorneous decry of “censorware” continuing, to me is evident enough.

  109. Charles Liu Says:

    I’m happy to say, after days of search, finally found one article that got it right. Bundle – what a difference a little word makes? (the word escaped me too):


    “[6/12] the Wall Street Journal reported that China wanted to require PC makers to
    bundle Green Dam with each unit sold.”

    There, this is the only reporting that’s consistent with the 5/19 MIIB announcement I’m able to find. Once again there’s no government censorship if end users are not required to install or run Green Dam, and the filters are configurable, does not call mothership.

  110. raventhorn4000 Says:


    One begin knowledge by recognizing conflict and anomalies all around us.

    To break through any paradigms, one must recognize their false boundaries/limitations by continually accept new anomalies that challenge them.

    This is the basis of work of Thomas Kuhn.

    Only when one has gather enough data of anomalies, one can formulate new theories beyond the current.

    *Thus, I do not see the discussion as limited, when one is willing to see the anomalies. They are everywhere on all sides.

  111. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Frankly, I would like to see media self-impose requirements of journalist educations.

    (1) Journalists who have little knowledge or experience with some subject matters should not be allowed to write stories of these subjects or to run fact checks for their colleagues on the subjects.

    I was quite amazed and sick of some of the ridiculous articles written about technologies and laws from people who had no clue what they were talking about.

    (2) Experts should be thoroughly tested for their knowledge before quoted. I don’t want some quotes from a Creationism high priest disguised as Biology.

    (3) all controversies should be reported as opinions, not as facts. And balance of at least 2 different opposing opinions should be included as such.

    *but as far as Media who are not willing to do so, I consider them less than truthful and professional.

  112. Steve Says:

    @ Charles #109: I’d agree that “bundle” is a good word. But the rest of that article contradicts what you’ve been posting for the last few days, listing the vulnerabilities that UM discovered, etc. Basically, they say the software is crap and not easily fixed.

    @R4K: Not sure what you’re driving at with Thomas Kuhn. I’m not a logical positivist, if that’s what your trying to say. Science might be logical and empirical, but I believe human beings are driven by emotion, then use logic to justify their emotional decisions.

    I can buy into your first two media requirements, but disagree with you on #3. Two different opposing opinions? For me, that’s exactly what’s wrong with today’s media. I’ll give you an example: The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer decides to talk about abortion. One guest wants legalized abortion up until the head is out but the body is still in the womb. The other guest wants all abortions to be illegal, whether involving incest, rape, or the mother dying. Similarly, a debate about gun control has one guest saying everyone should have to carry guns and can have bazookas and tanks on their front lawn, since tanks don’t kill people, people kill people while the other guest wants to make water pistols illegal. Sure I’m exaggerating, but not by much.

    It’s the job of the reporter NOT to present both sides but to do the research necessary to find out who is lying and who is telling the truth, or where most people actually stand on an issue. That’s real reporting. Bringing in a guest to tell why the Holocaust never happened is not reporting and not balanced discussion. It’s the reason I don’t watch the NewsHour anymore.

  113. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Steve:
    yes, bundle is a much better word. But if the U of M is correct, then this software seems more akin to spyware. That might cast doubt on Charles’ assertion that the program does not communicate with the mothership; in fact, not only might it communicate, but it would probably log keystrokes and the whole enchilada.

    THe google bit is interesting. Sounds similar to the crackdown on porn accessed through search engines that some Chinese ministry offshoot tried a few months back…there was a thread on that here on FM…and the head of that oversight body is the sister of a politburo member.

  114. Paul Says:

    1. Use Linux
    2. Fight For Freedom of Information
    3. Have a great day

  115. Allen Says:

    Chinese officials clarified on Thursday plan to install so-called anti-pornography software on every computer sold here will apply to Internet cafes, schools and other public places, but that individual consumers will not have to comply – according to this NYT article (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/14/world/asia/14censor.html ).

  116. Wukailong Says:

    @Allen: If that’s final, my guess is that people in the sales department of the major computer manufacturers are making a loud sigh of relief… 😉

  117. Steve Says:

    @ Allen & Wukailong: Do you think this will affect Lenovo or Acer’s sales since they are voluntarily installing Green Dam?


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