Published on junio 27th, 2009 | by admin0
China Tries Out A Trojan Horse.
In May, China told computer manufacturers that all personal computers sold in the country after July 1 must come installed with an anti-pornography software. A month later, it was forced to back down, telling PC users that use of the software – Green Dam-Youth Escort – would be optional. What the government had not anticipated was the strong reaction of the country’s more than 250 million netizens to the new software, which they saw as another of the state’s attempts to police cyberspace. While the Chinese government insists that the purpose of the Green Dam program was to block access to porn websites, critics say that the real purpose of what they consider to be “spyware” is to block websites that the government considers to be politically objectionable.
A technical analysis of the software by the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), an organization promoting openness in cyberspace, concluded that it “is far more intrusive than any other content control software we have reviewed”. The ONI found that “the functionality of Green Dam goes far beyond that which is needed to protect children online and subjects users to security risks. The deeply intrusive nature of the software opens up several possibilities for use other than filtering material harmful to minors”. This how the software works, according to the ONI report. It blocks access to a wide range of websites – from porn and gaming to those with gay content – based on keywords and image processing.
In addition, it actively monitors individual computer behavior such that a wide range of programs, including word processing and e-mail, “can be suddenly terminated if content algorithm detects inappropriate speech”. Another technical study on Green Dam, conducted by the University of Michigan, found that any website the user visits could exploit the features built into the software to take control of the computer, compromising its security.
The new Chinese software differs from existing filtering programs in distinctive ways, according to the technical studies.
– First, Green Dam moves the filtering operation to end-users on the periphery, making access to politically undesirable information more difficult.
– Second, it creates a built-in Big Brother resident in the users’ home of office.
– Third, it provides the government with a means of disabling the user’s communication if necessary.
These three features show that the Green Dam software is developed not just to filter out undesirable information, a function already served by the expensive Golden Shied filtering system installed a few years ago. The software will also give the government control over the spread of information that could threaten its rule. Analysts believe that the communist government took this costly precautionary measure because of its obsession with “color” revolutions – a reference to anti-government movements in post-communist societies.
In recent years, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has conducted in-depth studies on “color” revolutions in some former Soviet states and found that modern IT technologies, including the social networking site Facebook, the video-sharing site YouTube, and Blogspot, were extremely effective in political mobilization tha toppled legitimate government in a number of countries.
According to the Liaowang Weekly, an official publication by the Xinhua news agency, cyberspace poses a big threat to China’s national security because it is an area the party’s grassroots organization, tis ideological work units and the state’s coercive forces find hard to enter and intervene in. Once public opinion is aroused, there is nothing the government can do. The Liaowang report lists 10 major ways in which the United States encourages people revolutions abroad. One of them is by energizing young people through the use of modern IT technologies.
After studying various movements – Otpor (which means boycott) in Serbia; Khmara (It’s enough) in Georgia; Pora (It’s time now) in the Ukraine; and Kelkel (resurrection) in Kyrgyzstan – the Chinese Communist Youth League found that a common weapon the youth in these countries employed was a We-based means of mass mobilization. A Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) study urged the CCP to develop a “braking capability to put a stop to the “destructive and subversive political mobilization”. Mr Zhang Lei and Mr Liu Shuguang, who authored the CASS study, openly urged the CCP to beef up “Internet national defense”. It should “block counter-revolutionary websites and filter undesirable information resolutely” and “identify and track down, through Web police and other effective means, the real identity of those organizing political mobilization”.
Theses concerns and recommendations could have prompted the Chinese government to embark on the Green Dam-Youth Escort project. But the outcry sparked by the controversial software and the force of millions of Chinese netizens forced the government to beat a retreat.