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China Plans To Filter Internet

PCs Sold After 1 July Must Have Filtering Software Packaged In

2 min read
China Plans To Filter Internet

As of 1 July, all personal computers sold in China are required to have the "Green Dam-Youth Escort" Internet filtering software resident on their hard drives or enclosed on a compact disc, reports various news outlets (here, here and here). In addition, computer makers are required to tell authorities how many PCs
they have shipped with the software included. Furthermore, all primary and secondary schools in China will be required to have the filtering software executing on their PCs as well.

Last year some 40 million PCs were sold in China.

This requirement to package filtering software has caused an outcry in Western countries as well as in China itself. Critics of the plan claim that the software, which the Chinese government says will be used to block pornographic,  violent or other "unhealthy" web sites, can (or will) also be used to block out anything that the Chinese government may perceive to be threatening, and or be used by the government to monitor individual surfing habits.

The Chinese government says that the charges are not true.

As I have mentioned on the Risk Factor several times before, the Australian government has also embarked on a program to filter (or "boil the ocean" as some have called it) the Internet. Nine ISPs are currently piloting a government-backed approach that requires web sites on Australian Communications and Media Authority developed blacklist be blocked. However, according to a recent story in the  Sydney Morning Herald, even though the trials are set to end next month, the government has admitted that as of now, "there are not success criteria as such."

Which of course leads to the question, if you can't define what a successful trial is, why conduct it in the first place?

After critics earlier this year claimed that the Australian government's blacklist was not only blocking pornographic web sites but also legitimate ones, the government ended up reducing the number of blocked web sites from 1,000 to under 500, the Morning Herald story says. The government had originally intended to block 10,000 web sites, but even with this number, given that there are millions of "adult" web sites and hundreds of millions of associated web pages, this approach seems like a colossal waste of time and money.

The Australian government probably wishes they had thought about the Chinese filtering software solution first, which, even though its purpose is likely not so benign as the Chinese government claims, has a better (albeit small) chance of working.

The Conversation (0)

Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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