Fight against China's Web filtering software grows

A U.S. company that says the filterware copied its code has ordered Lenovo, HP and others not to distribute it

A U.S. company that says its code was copied by a Chinese Internet filtering program has ordered more PC makers not to distribute the Chinese software.

Solid Oak Software has sent cease-and-desist orders to Lenovo, Acer, Gateway, Sony and Toshiba, following similar orders sent to Hewlett-Packard and Dell earlier this week, Solid Oak spokeswoman Jenna DiPasquale said in an e-mail Thursday.

The move added pressure over intellectual property theft to concerns that the Web filtering software, called Green Dam Youth Escort, could be used to bolster China's censorship of the Internet.

China last month ordered PC makers to distribute Green Dam with all computers sold in the country after July 1. The program blocks both pornography and some political content, including Web sites that mention Falun Gong, the spiritual movement banned as a cult in China. China has said the program is meant to protect children and can be disabled or uninstalled.

Solid Oak last week found that the Chinese software used code written in the proprietary format used by CyberSitter, the company's online content filter targeted at parents, DiPasquale said. The Chinese program contained blacklists and files apparently obtained from CyberSitter, according to a report by researchers at the University of Michigan.

An update distributed through the Chinese program has since disabled the copied blacklists, but the version available for download online does not yet reflect the changes, the researchers said in an addition to their report yesterday.

No one at the main company that developed Green Dam, Jinhhui Computer System Engineering, was immediately available for comment.

Solid Oak has not yet heard back from the PC makers it contacted, DiPasquale said. Its next steps could include seeking a U.S. court injunction to stop the companies from distributing Green Dam in China, she said.

An HP spokeswoman said the company is seeking more information regarding Green Dam in cooperation with the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), a U.S. trade group. She confirmed HP had received Solid Oak's cease-and-desist order, but declined to comment further on its response.

Lenovo said it is closely monitoring developments involving Green Dam and will continue to obey the law in the countries where it does business.

Industry groups including the ITI have called on China to reconsider requiring distribution of the software, and Chinese state media yesterday said foreign companies might not be able to comply with the mandate on time.

"All domestic PC makers are ready to include the software by July 1, but some foreign PC makers, such as Dell, might not be able to meet the deadline," the China Daily quoted an unnamed official as saying.

Chinese Internet users have also filled Twitter streams and online forums with opposition to Green Dam.

Programming errors that left Green Dam vulnerable to some attacks have been patched since the University of Michigan researchers revealed them last week, their updated report says.

But a properly designed IP (Internet Protocol) address could still take control of a user's computer through holes that remain in the patched program, the report says.

The researchers again advised uninstalling the program, calling it unlikely that all of its security problems could be fixed before the deadline for its distribution with PCs.

One patch also updated Green Dam's help file with a license statement for OpenCV, an open source computer vision package developed by Intel, the report said. Green Dam's image recognition tool for pornographic images draws on the package, according to the report.

Earlier versions appeared to violate OpenCV's license by leaving out its text, the report said.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman defended China's support for the program and declined to answer a question on its use of copied code at a press briefing Thursday.

"China has the responsibility and the obligation to protect its youth from violation by harmful online information," the spokesman said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags securityChinaSolid Oak Software

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Owen Fletcher

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?