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China postpones mandatory installation of Internet filtering software

[JURIST] The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) [official website, in Chinese] announced Tuesday that it would delay [press release, in Chinese] the mandatory installation of controversial "Green Dam" Internet content filtering software. The software would block websites containing content such as pornography, drugs, homosexuality, or violence, and was scheduled to be installed on all computers sold in the country after July 1. China has said that while the software would be installed on all computers, it would be up to user to decide whether to run the program [JURIST report]. The MIIT said the software would still be available for download until a later launch date, and reiterated that it felt the software was necessary for protecting children from "harmful" online content.

Last week, a spokesperson for the US State Department [official website] said the country was concerned [press briefing; JURIST report] over China's decision to require the software, arguing that it could harm trade and the free flow of information. Earlier this month, Chinese human rights lawyer Li Fangping challenged the policy [JURIST report], demanding public hearings to determine if the requirement is lawful and reasonable. In March 2008, the government temporarily blocked Internet users [JURIST report] in the country from accessing the video-sharing website YouTube [corporate website] after videos of a recent government crackdown [YouTube video] on Tibetan protesters challenging Chinese rule were posted on the site.

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