Despite recently announced delays in China’s requirement to include Green Dam anti-pornography software on new PCs, the initiative is far from dead. PC makers who unanimously decried the hasty July 1st deadline managed to buy themselves an extension, but are still being told they to comply with the new requirements. The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology re-affirmed its commitment to Green Dam Youth Escort on Thursday, and claims that it sees the software as being an important tool for protecting young people from pornography and violence on the internet. To further reinforce its commitment to total penetration, software publisher Jinhui has been told to write a Mac OSX version of the software, and it is currently in beta testing.
Critics of the Green Dam filtering software continue to question the motivation behind the initiative, and have accused the Ministry of using the software to further political repression. This may be a valid concern when you consider that the Ministry in charge of Green Dam’s implantation is also responsible for suppressing illegal political activity. The situation for the Chinese gets even worse when you consider that several industry tests have shown multiple security vulnerabilities in the filtering software, and it even appears to have a high occurrence of false positives in the filtering algorithm. The vulnerabilities are considered so serious in fact, that Sony is including a disclaimer with all new PCs.
Will Linux be the only safe haven for the Chinese?
The Chinese Health Ministry has been waging a very public war against pornography lately, and although they appeared to be softening their approach, new developments on Thursday have left Google scrambling. In what some people are calling “a rigged demo”, a CCTV state-owned television monopoly broadcast an interview demonstrating the dangers of the Google Suggested Search feature which attempts to auto complete simple search terms with popular related queries. At one point during the interview, when the host typed the word “son” into Google, a suggested search was returned stating, “abnormal relationship between son and mother”.
Google has formally commented on the matter, and has explained that the suggested search feature is based on popularity. In their defense, Google claims that nobody had entered this phrase for several months, but the term suddenly became popular in Beijing in the days leading up to the show. Though this is hardly conclusive evidence of a conspiracy, it certainly falls into the category of “suspicious” if true.Regardless, Google claims to be working on a new system that would help it remove all traces of pornography from its Chinese database, but describes it as “a major engineering effort”. "Google has been working to remove pornography from our search results in China, in accordance with our operating license there," the company said.
Google already filters a significant amount of political content from its search results, and critics fear that further censorship will only complicate the efforts of rights activists. It is also worth noting that the government agency charged with cracking down on pornography, is also responsible for suppressing illegal political activity. American officials have been critical of knee jerk restrictions on companies trying to comply with Chinas increasing demand for pornography censorship, and I’m sure we will hear more on this issue in the coming months.
What do you think of the ongoing developments in China?
Google doesn't often trail the competition in the search engine market, but while others had already implemented a suggest feature to online searches originating from their respective home pages, the same thing was noticeably absent from Google.com. Having a suggest feature means related search queries to the ones you're typing in appear below the search bar. You may have noticed this when typing search queries in Firefox's search box or the Google Toolbar, but up until now, it hasn't been a part of Google.com. So why did it take so long to implement?
"Quality is very important to us, and since so many people visit the Google.com homepage, we wanted to make sure to evaluate and refine our algorithms to provide a good experience using Google Suggest," a Google spokesperson said.
If you're not seeing it just yet, not to worry, your interweb isn't broken - a full roll out is expected to be complete by the end of the week.