As of July 1st, all computers manufactured in China will be required to have a censorship program pre-installed on the machine’s hardrive. The software, called Green Dam,the Chinese government says, is supposed to prevent Internet users from viewing pornographic content. This by itself is an unwarranted, baseless, and controlling goal, which strikes us Westerners as bad enough. However, this is not all Green Dam is capable of doing. Indeed, according to Cnet.com, techological experts believe that the software could be able to monitor users’ Internet activities, allow the Chinese government to block certain categories of information and entertainment, and could be used to mobilize all of China’s computers in cyber-attacks and turn them into the largest fascist fighting force in history.
In short, the Chinese government could use the software to consolidate its power and crush political dissent. The Communists have seen what is happening in Iran, where people are using Internet services like Twitter to organize and galvanize the reform movement and they have every intention of preventing this from occurring in China. Despite the economic strides the Communists have made in the twenty years since the Tiananmen Square massacre, there is no substitute for freedom, something the Chinese people crave. Rather than cede an inch to the reformers, the Grand Poobahs of China will fight them to death.
So, what is the US and American companies to do? They could start by threatening to cut off computer sales in China, unless the government rescind its regulations. this tactic, though extreme, would probably force China’s hand. Another option is for America and the Western World to apply public pressure on the Chinese. Whatever is to be done, we must act to salvage the few shreds of freedom that exist in China.