Jun 15 2009
Let’s put filtering on the every computer in the country because we want to protect our 14 year old boys from seeing any inappropriate images, because that’s always worked so well in the past! Or at least that’s what the Chinese government is saying about their new piece of ‘security software’, Green Dam. Like something as simple as a filtering software is going to stop a semi-intelligent teenager from finding pictures of women on the Internet? And if it is somehow fairly effective, what’s to stop them from going out and finding a magazine or three? Of course, all the talk about ‘protecting our youth’ is just a smoke screen for having an excuse to put a program on the computer that stops any sort of activity that might possibly be considered subversive by the Chinese government.
I find Green Dam interesting for two reasons. The first is that this isn’t just a web traffic monitoring program; it monitors all behavior on the computer and will terminate any program that has ‘inappropriate information’ entered into it. The example giving by Telecom Asia states that simply typing in ‘falundafa.org’ into Notepad is enough to get the program terminated. Even if you’re not trying to get to the actual site, Green Dam is set up to stop you from having any sort of information including the URL in use on your computer. I guess if you stretch your imagination a little bit, this might be something that’s needed to protect the youth of China from the corrupting influence of Falun Dafa. Or if you’re cynical, it’s just another way the Chinese government is trying to make sure that anything even vaguely subversive never sees the light of day.
The other part I find interesting (and funny) is that it appears at least part of the code for Green Dam is completely stolen code. Not that the company responsible for ‘creating’ Green Dam admits this as fact or even is willing to admit it as a possibility, but finding code and update instructions for Solid Oak’s product in Green Dam is pretty conclusive evidence. Given that much of Asia has long held copyright issues to be someone elses problem, as long as it’s Asia that’s doing the stealing, this doesn’t really surprise me. Unluckily, it doesn’t appear that any bugs in the original code have been fixed.
The especially disturbing part of Green Dam is that given the base of it’s code, it could easily be updated to monitor all traffic and activity on one computer or all of the computers that have it installed. I have to assume that the Chinese government will have a mechanism already in place to update particular computers and begin monitoring and tracking everything that’s happening on the systems. As if what they’re doing already wasn’t enough.