china-internet-cafe.gifThe Chinese government wants all PCs sold in the country to come with software to block pornography and possibly among other types of content.

If the announcement had been made by a western educational body or even government, I doubt it would have made the headlines. But because it comes out of China, the subtext, of course, is that the software is going to be used for political censorship.

That could be true, of course, but Jinhui Computer System Engineering , the company charged with developing the Green Dam Youth Escort software, has probably got enough on is plate simply tracking down porn sites.

This year, China launched a nationwide crackdown on internet pornography, which is banned in China. More than 1,900 websites have been shut down since the beginning of the campaign and sites including Google and Baidu, China's most popular search engine, were criticised for linking to suspect sites.

The devil is in the detail with all censorship, of course. It is true the Chinese government has been highly successfully in preventing its citizens from routinely accessing thousands of western websites — including EngagingChina for reasons which I have never understood.

But that task is relative easy as the Great Firewall of China is simply programmed to block ranges of foreign IP addresses that host sites that the government doesn't want its citizens to view.

Few of these sites not going to go to the hassle and expense of changing IP address every few days to keep ahead of China's political censors, and so the black list is a blunt but surprisingly effective weapon.

Pornography poses a greater challenge. While it is easy to block access to a popular site, the great majority of porn sites are much more ephemeral and elusive. Block access to one and, Hydra-like, it spawns other sites with similar sounding names with a speed that I suspect will defeat even the most zealous of China's morality police.

Parental control software and other types of “web content filtering” tools are commonly installed in educational establishments, libraries and other public places in the west. Many western businesses also routinely block access to pornography not so much to protect the morality of their employees but to avoid temptation and, more importantly, to prevent possible litigation from other employees who are offended by the co-workers covertly or not so covertly viewing AsianPornXXX.com

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