Chinese web filter could limit free speech: US

June 23rd, 2009 - 3:52 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 23 (DPA) The United States questioned the Chinese government’s motives for imposing a new mandatory internet filter on all new computers which it believes could restrict free speech, the US State Department said Monday.
US officials from a number of departments met their Chinese counterparts Monday in Beijing to voice their concerns, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said.

China has ordered computer manufacturers to install the new Green Dam software on all newly-sold computers beginning July 1. The government said it was needed to protect children from pornographic material, but the technology could also be used to block politically sensitive websites.

Kelly called it “inappropriate software” that had broader applications than just restricting pornography websites. He said it raised questions about “free expression”.

“We are concerned about Green Dam in terms of its potential impact on trade, the free flow of information, and the serious technical issues raised by the software,” Kelly told reporters in Washington.

“There are other commercially available software programmes which provide users with a wide range of choices for shielding minors from illicit or inappropriate Internet content, which is the ostensible rationale for this,” Kelly said.

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