China has ditched plans to force foreign and domestic computer manufacturers to install internet filtering technology in computers sold inside its borders.
The Chinese government paid $5.85m (£3.53m) to develop the software called Green Dam and claimed it was being installed to stop access to porn on computers and protect children.
But some argued the initiative would also further China’s online censorship programme, already the most advanced in the world, making it controversial for Western computer makers and human rights organisations.
China’s industry and information technology minister, Li Yizhong said manufacturers, internet users and organisations opposed to the plans had received the wrong message from his department and that installation was never planned to be compulsory.
He said Green Dam would be installed in public places and schools, but would be “voluntary” for other users who can choose whether to install a software disk that they will receive when buying a new computer.
"Any move to politicise the issue or to attack China's Internet management system is irresponsible and not in line with reality", he said in a statement on the Chinese government's English web portal.
All new computers in China were originally meant to have Green Dam installed by 1 July, but in June the mandate to comply with the government’s intentions was delayed because the government acknowledged PC manufacturers needed more time to conform.
However, other reports have said the delay was due to the fact that the Green Dam software faced opposition from internet users claiming their privacy and internet freedoms would be curbed by its installation.
Green Dam has also faced legal problems. US software filtering provider Solid Oak claimed copyright infringement, alleging programming code from its software CyberSitter was found in the Green Dam application.
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