Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Company threatens legal action on China Web filter

Company threatens legal action on China Web filter

A California company that says its software was illegally used in Beijing's new Internet filter threatened unspecified legal action as PC makers faced a Wednesday deadline to supply the system with computers.
Solid Oak Software Inc. of Santa Barbara says it has written to Dell Inc., Hewlett-Packard Inc. and other producers calling on them not to use China's Green Dam software on the grounds that it contains illegally obtained intellectual property.
Solid Oak is picking lawyers to represent it in China and will be "moving forward legally" after Wednesday, company spokeswoman Jenna DiPasquale said in an e-mail. "I cannot say at this time what specific legal actions we plan to take," she said.
U.S. trade officials and industry and free-speech groups have appealed to Beijing to revoke its order, which requires suppliers to pre-install Green Dam or include it on a disk with each PC made beginning Wednesday for sale in China.
Washington says the order, issued abruptly in May, might violate Beijing's World Trade Organization free-trade pledges. American officials have cited warnings by computer experts that the software could cause security problems for users.
The U.S. Embassy did not immediately respond to requests for information on the status of talks with Chinese officials.
Industry groups have received no response to a letter sent last week by 22 U.S., European and Japanese groups to Premier Wen Jiabao appealing to him to scrap the order, said one of the signers, Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.
"We hope we receive feedback," Wuttke said. "We also hope this decision can be postponed, because there are so many uncertainties in connection with the software."
Taiwan's Acer Inc., the world's No. 3 PC maker, which contracts out much of its manufacturing to Chinese suppliers, says it will ask them to comply with the order.
HP, the world's No. 1 PC maker, and No. 2 Dell have declined to comment, leaving it unclear whether they are waiting for a diplomatic resolution. In response to questions about whether it would meet the deadline, Dell said in a statement, "we have nothing new to provide you at this time."
The general manager of Green Dam's developer, Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co., Zhang Chenmin, declined to comment on the American software company's claim.
China is important to PC makers both as a major manufacturing site and a fast-growing market. It accounts for up to 80 percent of world production.
China's communist government encourages Internet use for education and business, and the country has the biggest population of Web users, with more than 298 million. But authorities try to block access to material deemed obscene or subversive and Beijing operates the world's most sweeping system of Internet filtering. The new software would raise those controls to a new level by putting the filter inside each PC.
The Green Dam initiative coincides with a tightening of government controls on Internet use.
Last week, the Health Ministry ordered health-related Web sites that carry research on sexually oriented topics to allow access only to medical professionals.
Also last week, the government issued new rules on "virtual currency" used by some game Web sites, saying it cannot be used to purchase real goods.
Chinese authorities say Green Dam is needed to block access to violent and obscene material. But analysts who have reviewed the program say it also contains code to filter out material the government considers politically objectionable.
The system has been used since last year in some Internet cafes in China and has been installed since the start of this year in PCs sold under a government program that subsidizes appliance sales in the countryside, according to manufacturers and news reports.
"All the computers in this 'Appliances to the countryside' program had this installed or received it on disk," said Yi Juan, a spokeswoman for Great Wall Computer Ltd., a leading domestic PC manufacturer.
Yi said she had no details on how many PCs were sold with the software or whether users reported problems. Asked whether customers knew PCs had Internet filters, she said she did not know whether they were informed, but said, "they should know."
Chinese Web surfers have ridiculed the software and appealed to the government to scrap its order. They say Green Dam blocks access to photos of animals and other innocuous subjects and have circulated online petitions against the system.
The Chinese press has reported extensively on the domestic criticism, an unusual step in a system where the entirely government-controlled media usually promote official policy.
___
On the Net:
http://www.solidoak.com


Updated : 2021-06-13 13:00 GMT+08:00