In June news broke of an ambitious new campaign in China to filter it citizen's computers. Titled the Green Dam Youth Escort, it required all new computers to come with filtering software. While China claimed the move was to protect against pornography, many citizens feared further government monitoring and computer manufacturers didn't enjoy being forced to include the new software.
Now China's government-run Xinhua news agency has announced that the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology would "delay the mandatory installation of the controversial 'Green Dam-Youth Escort' filtering software on new computers."
Wen Yunchao, an editor at the popular Chinese website Netease cheered the mood, stating, "This was the result of combined pressure from domestic Internet users and an array of forces at home and abroad... No matter what, for the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology to make this last-minute decision was a small victory for the forces of justice."
Across the nation the mood was similarly festive. In Beijing, a planned protest party at an internet cafe became a daylong celebration instead. The 200 attendees, dressed in shirts mocking the Green Dam, enjoyed a traditional Chinese breakfast than spent the remainder of the day talking, drinking, and surfing the net.
Zhou Ze, a Beijing lawyer who challenged the legality of the plan was among those in a festive mood in Beijing. Mr. Ze had took issue with the Green Dam software's provisions which would shut down gay-themed message boards, considered an important tool for those who practice alternative lifestyles in China. States Mr. Ze, "This shows that social pressure can't be ignored, that public opinion has some impact."
While China may eventually recommence its efforts, it faces a tougher uphill battle, having already given in and delayed the launch. The move is opposed by the U.S. government, by the computer industry, by internet and free speech advocates, and by many of China's own citizens. With the world's largest internet population -- with 300 million users -- China is finding it harder to silence and censor its citizens’ activities.
China's internet traffic from external sources is still restricted by the "Great Firewall of China" a massive project that blocks foreign IPs the ruling party finds offensive and tracks users. The back down places computer manufacturer Sony in an awkward position, as it raced to install the software ahead of schedule and now is left wondering what to do.