‘Google has suffered intensive disruption in China, just days after it was warned to scale back its search operations.
Chinese bloggers, who believe the move is intended to distract attention away from the domestic controversy over the Green Dam software, have called for a boycott of the internet on 1 July, the start date for its installation on all new computers.


According to the report on the implementation of ‘Green Dam’ by the Open Net Initiative at the University of Toronto’s Munk Centre for International Studies:

“If implemented as proposed, the effect would be to increase the reach of Internet censorship to the edges of the network, adding a new and powerful control mechanism to the existing filtering system.”

Language tricks can get around censors and mock them at the same time. Chinese activists have become masters of satire and symbolism. This drawing by a Chinese blogger uses the visual language of Japanese anime.

Green Dam Girl is an internet avatar figure. She’s holding a rabbit, which is the software’s logo, and carrying a bucket of paint. On her cap is an image of the river crab, a homonym for the word “harmony” in Chinese (the Chinese government calls censorship ‘harmonization’).


China’s authorities currently block overseas-based sites they disapprove of, such as those relating to Tibetan independence, or the Falun Gong spiritual movement, with a mesh of filters and keyword restrictions, widely known as the ‘Great Firewall’. Control over domestic servers is applied through instructions to content providers and search engines, which must self-censor to stay in business.

Computer makers in China have now been instructed to pre-install blocking software on every PC hard drive from next month, under a government push to control access to the internet. A new software – called ‘Green Dam Youth Escort’ – potentially adds a powerful new tool at the level of the individual computer. It updates a list of forbidden sites from an online database, much as network security programs automatically download the latest defences against new worms, trojans and viruses.

The related software developing companies have long-term working relationships with the Public Security Bureau and the People’s Liberation Army.

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My ‘Nets’ project work includes control and prevention of the flow of information by various surveillance systems – including the above. More generally, I’m intrigued with
metaphors and analogies that derive from connections between all types of working nets.

‘Nets’ web-site: