Only in China….
You may have already heard that manufacturers selling personal computers in the PRC will now be required by the Chinese government to install a software program called Green Dam to filter out pornography and sexually explicit material. As could have been easily predicted, a couple of days later, reports surfaced that the filter would also block out topics considered politically dangerous to the Communist Party.
Now Solid Oak Software, a California company, is charging that China stole parts of its CyberSitter program after the company found pieces of the software in Green Dam.
Combined with the lack of advanced warning to the business community that all companies install the censoring program and the Chinese supplier’s ties to the military, we are presented with a uniquely troubling situation. The Internet should be a way for Chinese people to express unfettered opinions of social and political events. However, with existing government censorship, companies removing politically sensitive sources from online search functions, sometimes voluntarily providing information then used to jail dissidents, and this current web-filtering effort, the freedom and opportunities provided by the Internet everywhere else are still a long way off in China. The use of stolen intellectual property certainly adds to the richness of the story. But it also helps illustrate that the common thread throughout China’s many shortcomings is a fundamental lack of the rule of law and government accountability.