China's new online porn filters could put each PC at increased hacking risk

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London, June 11 (ANI): China's plans to censor the Internet by forcing all new computers to be sold with filtering software may put every computer in the country at increased hacking risk, experts have warned.

According to Isaac Mao, blogger, social entrepreneur and research fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, the compulsory government software appeared to be plagued with flaws.

The Green Dam Youth Escort software, intended to promote "healthy development of the internet" and "effectively manage harmful material for the public and prevent it from being spread," was said to be at the risk of falling in the hands of malicious hackers and could lead to a "large-scale disaster".

"We found a series of software flaws," the BBC quoted Mao as saying.

The expert explained that unencrypted communication between the software and the company servers could let hackers to "steal people's private information" or "place malicious script" on computers in the network to "affect [a] large scale disaster."

At least 3 million computer users were believed to have used the software, exposing them to potential security problems.

It was also alleged that the system not only blocked banned content but also prevented legitimate websites from appearing.

One comment read: "I went on the internet to check out some animal photos. A lovely little naked pig was sent onto the black list. Pitiful little pig!

"I was curious, so I looked up some photos of naked African women. Oh, they were not censored!"

Professor Jonathan Zittrain, also of Harvard's Berkman Center, further pointed towards the possibility that the government was trying to crush rumours that the system could be used to monitor its citizens and their web habits.

Zittrain said: "Once you've got government-mandated software installed on each machine, the software has the keys to the kingdom - anything can be logged or affected.

"While the justification may be pitched as protecting children and mostly concerning pornography, once the architecture is set up it can be used for broader purposes, such as the filtering of political ideas."

But Zhang Chenmin, general manager of the developer of Green Dam, told the China Daily newspaper last year: "Our software is simply not capable of spying on internet users, it is only a filter." (ANI)

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