Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 15:48 UK

China delays internet filter plan

Chinese net user, AFP

China is to delay a controversial plan requiring all new computers sold in the country to be equipped with an internet filtering software, state media says.

The filter, called Green Dam Youth Escort, was to have been required from Wednesday, but the industry ministry said computer makers needed more time.

Its planned rollout sparked widespread disapproval inside China, legal challenges and criticism from overseas.

Officials say it is designed to shield children from pornography and violence.

However, free speech activists have criticised the software plan as an attempt to tighten the Chinese government's already strict controls on internet usage.

A report by China's official Xinhua news agency gave no other details on the decision by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Virus risks

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville, in Beijing, says the reversal is a very rare and embarrassing climbdown for the Chinese government.

Chinese internet users already endure one of the most heavily-censored and politically-controlled internets in the world, our correspondent says, and were furious about this additional control.

Foreign governments have complained that the new software could break trade rules, and concerns have been raised about its effectiveness and safety.

Tests carried out on Green Dam outside China indicated that it left personal computers open to many different security risks, including virus attacks.

Our correspondent says that despite the government's strict controls over internet usage in China, the country does have a vibrant internet culture.

Some people do manage to get around the controls, he says, and criticism of the Communist Party government is available online, even if political opposition is formally banned.

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