The Chinese government has retreated on its controversial new web filtering plan, saying the software can be uninstalled or switched off.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) earlier this week announced that from July 1 all computers sold in the country would have to have internet filtering software pre-installed.
MIIT officials said the software, called “Green Dam Youth Escort”, was intended to shield young users from pornography.
But the plan has provoked outrage on mainland bulletin boards and mystification among foreign PC vendors.
A survey on news portal ifeng.com showed that 75.8% thought the new software might impinge on their privacy and 62% did not think it would prevent teenagers from viewing content and nearly 90% said they would not pay an extra fee for the filter, Time reported.
But a statement published in state and private media yesterday said that users “can choose whether or not to install the software and could turn it off or to uninstall it.” The software would not collect user’s information, it said.
The MIIT paid $6 million to Zhengzhou-based company, Jinhui Computer System Engineering, for the Green Dam software. It has not said whether users or PC companies will have to pay to have it installed.