Without explanation or details, the Chinese government has suspended the enforcement of the new rule mandating that Web filtering software, known as Green Dam Youth Escort, be included with every computer sold in that country. The rule was scheduled to go into effect tomorrow, ostensibly to keep pornographic material from reaching Chinese youth.
The rule drew the ire of free speech groups, foreign governments, and American computer manufacturers Dell and Hewlett-Packard in recent weeks, as many see the mandate as a thinly veiled attempt to stifle free speech and censor politically sensitive material. A California software maker added a new wrinkle to the controversy when it claimed the Green Dam software included pirated programming code from its own parental monitoring software. But Chinese officials stood firm, and U.S. manufacturers were scrambling to comply during the last week.
The suspension of the rule could be a sign that Chinese officials are softening their stance, but more likely the state is concerned about several security flaws detected within the Green Dam software that could make Chinese networks vulnerable to cyber attacks. The government has not said how long enforcement of the rule will be delayed.