updated 08:15 am EDT, Fri July 3, 2009
Macs Exempt from Green Dam
Only Windows PCs may be required to carry China's controversial Green Dam Youth Escort content filtering app, computer makers said on Friday. Although the government officially requires every computer sold in the country to have the software included, any system that can't install Green Dam, including any of Apple's computers or Linux PCs, doesn't have to bundle it. The exemption also applies to any computer that doesn't meet the "technical requirements" for an install, according to one anonymous PC vendor.
This currently includes systems running 64-bit versions of Windows, which could lead to many mid- and high-end PCs going without. Most Windows 7 PCs, for example, will likely use the 64-bit version due to the low 4GB memory ceiling of the 32-bit code.
Allowing these computers to go without the software effectively steers concerned users towards Macs as well as certain models from larger PC builders like Dell or China's own Lenovo that run Linux by default. Officially, the software is only intended for filtering 'obscene' Internet content to protect children but has been known to block political content that challenges China's official views and is rumored to include backdoor control or monitoring features to help the government track user activity.
So far, the Chinese government has attempted to calm international concerns about being forced to cooperate by postponing when the requirement would take effect and by noting that users aren't required to actually install the software and can legally remove it if in place. Sony is the first to voluntarily offer the software, having started to bundle it this week, but has said it can't guarantee the software will work.
The situation is said to potentially change in the future and may require cooperation from others. Those associated with Green Dam developer Jinhui note that non-Windows versions are being tested. It's unclear if this includes a Mac OS X version, but an Apple sales staffer claims that the company will bundle any native port if it's required to do so in the future.