Evaluating China’s Green Dam software

The news that China will begin requiring all computers sold in the country to include Internet filtering software has sparked waves of commentary on topics ranging from legal challenges to human rights issues to concerns about security and effectiveness. Also, a post on African porn.

The software, known as Green Dam Youth Escort, ostensibly protects children from harmful information online by filtering out sites that contain prohibited keywords. It will be mandatory on every computer sold in China after July 1, 2009.

The OpenNet Initiative, where I’m working as part of my internship for Harvard’s Berkman Center, worked this week to evaluate the functionality of Green Dam. In “China’s Green Dam: The Implications of Government Control Encroaching on the Home PC,” we review the functional elements of this new software and explore the possible effects of its implementation on a national scale. We conclude that Green Dam is deeply flawed and poses critical security concerns for users.

3 thoughts on “Evaluating China’s Green Dam software”

  1. Rebekah, ONI got this story wrong.

    "preinstall" in Chinese actually means "bundle". Take this 6/12 ZDNet article citing WSJ for example:


    The end users were never reuqired to install or run Green Dam. As to what Green Dam will filter, it is configuable by the user.

    How this is twisted into censorhip is beyond me – anti-sinoism perhaps? Hope not, but as potential victim of rising anti-Chinese sentiment in America, forgive me I feel I should be vigiliant.

  2. "We conclude that Green Dam is deeply flawed and poses critical security concerns for users."

    I worried that you would refute that. It was for a short while, but I did indeed worry that you'd conclude otherwise.
    This is certainly very calming.

    (In other parts of the World, this comment was released under the title: Why Disagreement With the Unerringly-Righteous American Moral Standards is (Undemocratic!) Censorship.)

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