Page last updated at 09:02 GMT, Thursday, 13 August 2009 10:02 UK

China scales back screening plan

Green Dam girl, other
The cartoon Green Dam Girl was been used to mock the filtering plan

China has scaled back its plans to install controversial net filtering software on its citizens' computers.

In June, the government said that all PCs would have to have the "Green Dam Youth Escort" software installed to filter out objectionable material.

The announcement caused an outcry in China and further afield.

The government has now said that citizens can choose whether they use the program, although installations on public computers will still go ahead.

"Installation is intended to block violent and pornographic content on the internet to protect children," said China's minister of industry and information technology Li Yizhong.

"Any move to politicise the issue or to attack China's internet management system is irresponsible and not in line with reality."

Roll back

In June, the Chinese government announced that all computers sold in China - even those that are imported - would have to have the software installed by 1 July.

The program was created to stop people viewing "offensive" content such as pornographic or violent websites and promote the "healthy development of the internet".

The announcement caused outcry across the blogosphere in China and beyond from people who believed the system was designed to censor the web.

In addition, University of Michigan security researchers found a series of flaws in the software which could have allowed a malicious hacker to take control of every computer which had the software installed.

On 30 June, the government delayed its plans to roll out the software.

During a news conference, Li said the ministry was still gauging public opinion before installation and said work was being done to upgrade the software.

Although he said citizens could now choose whether or not they installed the software, it would still be compulsory on computers in schools, internet cafes and other public places.

The plan was to prevent "obscenity" from "poisoning the young", he said.

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