Content-Control Software: Green Dam Youth Escort

The Green Dam Youth Escort was developed in the People’s Republic of China to serve as content-control software for children. In 2009, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced that it would be mandatory for all new computers in Mainland China (including imported computers) to have this software, either pre-installed or with a disk. In June of 2009, however, the requirement was postponed to a later date. In August of 2009, it was announced that the Green Dam Youth Escort software would not need to be installed in all computers, but would need to be in computers intended for schools and other public use computers.

The software was developed for Windows by the companies Bejing Dazhang and Zhengzhou Jinhui. Both of them are in difficult situations now, and likely to fold as they lack state funding. 20 million users currently have the software, and Asian brands such as Acer and Sony have ordered it in bulk due to the original directive from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Green Dam Youth Escort software is supposedly meant to prevent users from looking at pornography. It restricts content by analyzing skin-colored areas, which means that all flesh colored pictures would be barred. The software also collects private data and downloads a list of restricted sites. Users cannot see the list of sites, but they can unblock certain ones and block certain search terms if they would like. Also, it is apparently possible to uninstall the software.

The Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA) was not pleased when the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced the requirement to install Green Dam Youth Software. It requested the help of the Obama administration to prevent Beijing from requiring the software. A number of other groups expressed their concern about the Green Dam Youth Escort, as well, and many signed a letter suggesting that the government not enforce installation of the software. A BBC news article suggested that installing the software, due to a number of flaws and the intention behind the software, could be disastrous.

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