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Chinese Schools Ax Green Dam Censorship Software

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the ungrateful-whelps dept.

Censorship 53

eldavojohn writes "China's controversial Green Dam Internet Filter died on new PCs a month ago, but it wasn't until recently that Chinese schools silently removed it. Claims that the software inhibited work in schools was cited as the reason by Reuters. 'We will remove all Green Dam software from computers in the school as it has strong conflicts with teaching software we need for normal work,' said one school, while another claimed, 'It had seriously influenced our normal work.'"

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ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29425737)

ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD

Engrish or bad translation (0)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 4 years ago | (#29425781)

It had seriously influenced our normal work.

So Green Dam was an influence and not a hindrance?

Re:Engrish or bad translation (3, Informative)

quatin (1589389) | more than 4 years ago | (#29425897)

There's nothing wrong with the translation. I think it's more about your understanding of the word "influence". Influencing their normal work just means it affects their normal work. It doesn't mean a good influence or a bad influence. Is the sentence by itself ambiguous? Yes. But it's in the right context to suggest a bad influence, so there shouldn't be a misunderstanding.

Re:Engrish or bad translation (1)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 4 years ago | (#29426943)

This is Slashdot. Not only do readers need to be spoon-fed, they also need to be told which side of the spoon is up.

Re:Engrish or bad translation (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 4 years ago | (#29427535)

This is Slashdot. Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth. There is no spoon.

Re:Engrish or bad translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29430469)

It may have been that the original used å½±éY which is usually translated into the english "influence" but has a negative connotation. So it already probably means a bad influence.

Yay slashdot for not understanding UTF8. It's supposed to be ying xiang.

Re:Engrish or bad translation (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 4 years ago | (#29435647)

> Yay slashdot for not understanding UTF8. It's supposed to be ying xiang.

Yeah, that is irritating. Basically people used things like Unicode's Left to Right Override character to mess up the layout so someone who's language can be represented in 7 bit ASCII decided to clobber Unicode completely.

My Hanyu Pinyin dictionary says ying3xiang3 means influence and it gives one of the examples as "The crops have been influenced by the weather", so the connotation is clearly negative.

Re:Engrish or bad translation (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29438137)

Basically people used things like Unicode's Left to Right Override character to mess up the layout so someone who's language can be represented in 7 bit ASCII decided to clobber Unicode completely

Apparently just excluding the relevant unicode ranges was too difficult. It's not like there are existing functions that you can call to do that or anything...

Maybe a Really Good Translation? (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29426053)

It had seriously influenced our normal work.

So Green Dam was an influence and not a hindrance?

Perhaps in countries where you can be prosecuted and/or silently punished for criticizing your government the above ambiguity is a must for public statements made to newspapers. I would surmise that the translation was all too accurate. So that those who know what you mean know they are not alone and those who do not agree cannot hold it against you. Just speculation but I would wager these were carefully chosen words.

Re:Maybe a Really Good Translation? (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 4 years ago | (#29426651)

I'll ask the same question I ask every time I see this kind of material: How much real insight do you have into the workings of Chinese society and citizen/government interaction? I admit mine is heavily filtered through others with political agendas, and I'm guessing you're in the same boat.

It looks to me like your biases may be influencing your analysis. You think it's likely that the government is at once strict enough to punish someone for saying Green Dam was harmful but too stupid to impose the same consequence on implying the same by saying it "influenced" things and is therefore being removed? More likely, in fact, than that it's a quirk in the translation?

I'm just saying, I don't think I've ever seen a translation from Chinese to English that wasn't qualified wtih "literally these characters would mean X, but really it's best rendered as Y".

Re:Maybe a Really Good Translation? (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 4 years ago | (#29435685)

Actually if you read www.danwei.org, www.chinasmack.com for example, there are lots of examples of people using irony, sarcasm, ambiguity, puns and homonyms to evade censorship and make political points that would be unsafe to make if they stated things outright. However I don't believe this is one of those cases - it's more like there's a mass uprising against Green Dam and the Chinese government is slowly backing down.

Re:Maybe a Really Good Translation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29431207)

actually "influenced" was a bad direct translation of "yinxiang" in this case. It really should have been translated as "interfered"

Re:Engrish or bad translation (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29426211)

Most likely the work "influence" was translated from the Chinese word yinxiang [mdbg.net] , which generally connotes a negative influence. A better translation in this context might be "disturb."

Re:Engrish or bad translation (1)

medv4380 (1604309) | more than 4 years ago | (#29426955)

That makes more scene. Thank you for the incite.

Re:Engrish or bad translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29426745)

Is English your first language? If so then you are an idiot. If not, then I think you are confused and need to look of the definition of "influence."

Re:Engrish or bad translation (1)

ZarathustraDK (1291688) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428737)

Yep, just like you are at home and not in jail for inciting social instability.

(depending on your nationality you're either smiling or nerveously looking over your shoulder right now)

Not to worry, IANTCG (I Am Not The Chinese Government)

Re:Engrish or bad translation (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#29430609)

It had seriously influenced our normal work.

So Green Dam was an influence and not a hindrance?

Given that anything that is a hindrance is an influence (by definition), why would you conclude that it wasn't a hindrance based on the fact that it was an influence? That's a bit like me saying, "I ate a sandwich," and you responding with "So you had a sandwich and not a roast beef sandwich?" Nothing in what I said implied it wasn't roast beef. Nothing in the originally quoted sentence implies it wasn't a hindrance.

Kinda like my school last year. (5, Informative)

Slashdot Suxxors (1207082) | more than 4 years ago | (#29425791)

We had a SonicWall filter and it blocked pretty much everything. Not saying it was SonicWall's fault as we had a highly incompetent system administrator, but it was very detrimental to doing even the simplest of tasks. So I know how these students and teachers feel.

Re:Kinda like my school last year. (2, Informative)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#29426027)

We had a SonicWall filter and it blocked pretty much everything. Not saying it was SonicWall's fault as we had a highly incompetent system administrator, but it was very detrimental to doing even the simplest of tasks. So I know how these students and teachers feel.

We've got a few clients who want things filtered, which means we've tried several different products to do that.

We ran a Squid/Dan's Guardian proxy for a while... But I was the only person here who could do anything with it, which made my job harder.

We set up gateways with built-in filters like the SonicWall, but I always felt their classifications were a little weird and arbitrary. Stuff got filtered that shouldn't have... Or got through that shouldn't have... And depending on how many users they had, it could get more expensive than I felt was necessary.

These days we're using OpenDNS. Anyone here can change the settings, it requires absolutely no special knowledge. The filter lists are pretty sensible... Not a whole lot blocked/allowed that shouldn't be... And the price is great.

Re:Kinda like my school last year. (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 4 years ago | (#29426031)

Youre right, its NOT SonicWall's fault, nor is it necessarily the admins fault. SonicWalls are just firewalls with filtering and VPN capabilities, they can be used for a number of tasks. It may not have been the admin's choice (and probably wasnt) to block all that stuff.

Re:Kinda like my school last year. (1)

wkurzius (1014229) | more than 4 years ago | (#29426467)

I have similar issues in my classroom. I would rather they leave everything unblocked and let the teacher keep an eye on the students. If the teacher is paying attention and makes sure everyone is busy, then there shouldn't be any issue.

Instead, I have to worry about nytimes.com or Google getting blocked, or getting accused of looking at porn when a certain string of characters appears in an encrypted site address.

Re:Kinda like my school last year. (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428757)

Indeed. A GOOD internet filter should essentially mean that an honest user almost never notices it unless they attempt to go somewhere on accident. Our internet filter at work I've hit a blocked site maybe 3 times in 5 years of working there. That's not bad IMHO. We had an internet enabled filter on the computer at my high school too. This was 15 years ago before I actually had internet at home (or at least not consistently - I signed up for 1 month trials and canceled them again as often as I could :)), so I used it a lot. During a 45 minute lunch break I couldn't go without hitting that filter a half dozen times. Seems as if everything worth reading was blocked. Eventually though I discovered that if you just killed the filter task in task manager it quit working . . . :)

Re:Kinda like my school last year. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29438153)

The school where my mother worked around ten years ago deployed a filter. One of the heuristics it used was that sites containing the letter x above a certain frequency were probably porn. This meant that any time I visited sites about UNIX, Linux, or XFree86, I got a big warning telling me off for looking at pornography on the school's network.

Wang (2, Funny)

Necroloth (1512791) | more than 4 years ago | (#29425807)

From the Reuters article:

A technology director, surnamed Wang, confirmed Tuesday that the software had been taken off most computers.

A fine example of great journalism... lemme guess, first name Suki-Ma?

Re:Wang (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428605)

You are aware the Wang is the most common surname in China [highbeam.com] , I assume?

(the name means "emperor")

Re:Wang (1)

ZarathustraDK (1291688) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428763)

You are aware the Wang is the most common surname in China [highbeam.com], I assume? (the name means "emperor")

What a coincidence! Where I live my "emperor" is called (a) wang.

Re:Wang (1)

Necroloth (1512791) | more than 4 years ago | (#29438349)

I think you may have missed by bit about 'great journalism' ... I was implying that this bit of information was not necessary or at least could have been written better. If, as you say, Wang is the most common surname in China, wouldn't it have been better to include the first name?

Controversial? (0)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#29425835)

Ok, I'm curious now. Exactly what was the controversy about it? Whether it sucks or it blows? :P

Re:Controversial? (4, Informative)

samcan (1349105) | more than 4 years ago | (#29425899)

The controversy was that the Chinese government was requiring this software (I believe developed by the Chinese government) to be installed on all new computers sold in China, including those sold by U.S. manufacturers.

Re:Controversial? (1)

quatin (1589389) | more than 4 years ago | (#29425947)

TFA says the Green Dam software was to be installed on all PUBLIC access computers in China. The United States filters public access computers already. Although there is not a national law that I am aware of, but pretty much every public library I've been to has an internet filter. Ever tried to look at porn on a public library computer?

Re:Controversial? (1)

samcan (1349105) | more than 4 years ago | (#29426009)

Here is the Austrialian news article linked to in the original Slashdot post: News article [news.com.au] .

CHINA plans to require that all personal computers sold in the country as of July 1 be shipped with software that blocks access to certain websites, a move that could give government censors unprecedented control over how Chinese users access the internet.

While in practice that could mean essentially all Internet cafe users, in theory, it would have applied to everyone.

Re:Controversial? (2, Informative)

quatin (1589389) | more than 4 years ago | (#29426143)

Ok, the Australian article does state that, but if you read the article [itnews.com.au] linked through the slashdot submission we are currently discussing.

Chinaâ(TM)s industry and information technology minister Li Yizhong said manufacturers, internet users and organisations opposed to the plans had received the wrong message from his department and that installation was never planned to be compulsory.

He said Green Dam would be installed in public places and schools, but would be âoevoluntaryâ for other users who can choose whether to install a software disk that they will receive when buying a new computer.

Re:Controversial? (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 4 years ago | (#29435727)

China's industry and information technology minister Li Yizhong said manufacturers, internet users and organisations opposed to the plans had received the wrong message from his department and that installation was never planned to be compulsory.

I think they've backed down.

Re:Controversial? (1)

johnlenin1 (140093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428497)

There actually is a federal law, if the library in question receives certain federal funds for Internet access or computers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Children's_Internet_Protection_Act [wikipedia.org] Many states laws take this forced censorship even further.

Re:Controversial? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29429915)

Yes, and it wasnt difficult. Sadly, that changed when a man was caught "in the act" while searching for "Midgets & Amputees".

I wish I could say that was a joke, but sadly, truth is stranger than fiction.

Re:Controversial? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29426151)

woooosh

Re:Controversial? (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 4 years ago | (#29425921)

Whether it sucks or it blows?

Apparently, it sucks... and spits.

Yes, Impressively Controversial (2, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29425977)

Ok, I'm curious now. Exactly what was the controversy about it? Whether it sucks or it blows? :P

You only list two but I was fairly impressed with the number of dimensions of controversy this effort managed to accrue. You have (and this is by no means a complete list) accusations of copyright infringement and stealing code [slashdot.org] , unencrypted transmission from every machine to the server [slashdot.org] and accusations that said vulnerabilities make way for a possible government botnet tool [slashdot.org] . And that's aside from obvious controversy of the citizen privacy violations and the Chinese government manipulating PC manufacturers.

Really, if you were to tell me that a government was pushing this I could not, in my wildest dreams, have guessed all of those controversies springing up. Hats off to the Chinese government. Sometimes I think nothing can else surprise me and then, well, there it is.

Re:Yes, Impressively Controversial (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#29426113)

And that's aside from obvious controversy of the citizen privacy violations and the Chinese government manipulating PC manufacturers.

Controversy? Every government invades the privacy of the citizenry and exists to manipulate trade and other conditions. China has a long history of doing more than average in both areas.

Except that's not what "controversy" means (4, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#29426249)

Except that's not what controversy [wikipedia.org] means. Controversy means basically an unsettled and ongoing debate as to whether something is good or bad, black or white, etc, and usually neither side really has more than opinion to support their version. But anyway, the jury is still out on which of them is right.

Exactly which of those aspects you've correctly linked to is still a controversy? Is the jury still out on whether vulnerabilities that could get your machine pwned are good or bad? Do we still have compelling arguments for both sides of the issue of whether private and sensitive user information should be encrypted when sent over the internet? Or what?

It seems to me like nowadays "controversial" has become the euphemism for, basically, "I think it's bad, but I want to pretend to be nice and balanced, so I must find another word."

Re:Except that's not what "controversy" means (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29426837)

Exactly which of those aspects you've correctly linked to is still a controversy?

Since two of them are alleged claims, they're being debated or scrutinized. The Chinese government says it's good, other people say it's bad. Neither have been proven. Duh. There's your controversy.

The unencrypted transmission could be innocent incompetence or a well placed "accident" with intentions to exploit. Again, another controversy. I didn't think it was that hard to see the controversy in those points.

This is a classic controversy: the balance between a citizen's privacy and the government's means to protect the citizen ... which is precisely what this software embodies. How can you not see this as a controversy? It's pretty much textbook controversy.

Re:Controversial? (1)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428305)

Maybe it's like MegaMaid? IOW, a transformer!

China? Look no further than Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29426149)

http://government.zdnet.com/?p=5429

Anonymity exposed, part deux: Google, ISPs ordered to expose academic dissidents

No charges laid.

Done to suppress legitimate criticism.

Never mind China. This is happening in our own back yard.

Goddam slopes (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29426325)

i hate chingers

It was more like this.... (1)

Ozlanthos (1172125) | more than 4 years ago | (#29426371)

"We will remove all Green Dam software from computers in the school as it has strong conflicts with teaching software we need for normal work," said one school while another claimed 'It had seriously influenced our normal work.'"

Really means:

"We (the teachers and staff) were no longer able to watch porn during recess and testing periods."

-Oz

Re:It was more like this.... (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 4 years ago | (#29427575)

All your porn are belong to us.

--

We do not repeat gossip, so listen carefully.

Re:It was more like this.... (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29427729)

If so, they may have been lucky. In China, teachers can't watch porn in class. In Soviet Russia, porn watched teachers!

Never ever ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29427349)

screw with the school system. Mama chang will mess you up.

In other news Monster.com reports... (1)

furby076 (1461805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29427603)

An increase in Chinese school teaching and administrative position availability. They are also on short supply for medical examiners.

----------
Scuba Diving [youtube.com]

Re:In other news Monster.com reports... (1)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 4 years ago | (#29428355)

The good news is that the Ministry of Health reports that organ banks have a surplus of "donated" organs!

How to frustrate the great firewall of China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29428547)

The Chinese internet censors are trying to censor political thought, but encourage Chinese access to scientific and technical information-- basically, they want to steal our technology, but not get any of our thinking along with it.

If you'd like to frustrate this, in all of the web pages under your control that have any scientific or engineering information, embed some political information-- words like "Falun Gong" and Tiananmen Square Massacre [wikipedia.org] -- in invisible form (say, white text on white, or even as meta key words)

Wikipedia Great firewall of China [wikipedia.org] or Internet censorship in the People's Republic of China [wikipedia.org] for idea on what to embed.

Expletive Deleted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29431623)

dam you has been deemed to be influential in the wrong direction. help you understand this

In other words... (1)

mathfeel (937008) | more than 4 years ago | (#29434525)

Local authority ignores mandates from central government, pretty routine in China, I'd say (despite what you might think about a strong central government): environmental regulation, land use/ownership/compensation guideline, anti-corruption laws, earthquake compensation, labor law etc. China actually have quite a few progressive law on the book, but are usually rendered unenforceable when the very people who are in charge of enforcing them stands to profit (read: kick-back from industry) by ignoring them and no independent judiciary system to hear petition of ordinary people whom these laws helps.

The only difference here is that it have a "positive" outcome.
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