Trade Groups Urge China to Drop Web Filtering Program

A wide-ranging group of trade associations has urged China to lift its requirement that an Internet filtering program be distributed with all new PCs, with the order set to take effect this week.

The letter sent by the group marks rising resistance to the mandate among foreign PC makers, partly over concerns about the security of the software, its alleged theft of code from a U.S. company and its censorship of political content in addition to pornography.

The mandate "seems to run counter to China's important goal of becoming a vibrant and dynamic information-based society," says the letter, signed by 22 organizations and addressed to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

The software raises questions of privacy, system stability and the free flow of information, says the letter, dated June 26, which was seen by IDG News Service. Signatories include the U.S.-based Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and the commerce chambers of the U.S., the European Union and Japan.

The letter calls for China to reconsider implementing the mandate and requests a dialogue with the government.

July 1 is the deadline for the distribution of the program, called Green Dam Youth Escort.

China says the software is meant to protect children from "harmful" information online.

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