China’s newest software aimed at increasing control and suppression of information has been lashed with a wave of criticism, inside and outside of the country. “Green Dam Youth Escort” is scheduled to be pre-installed in all computers sold in China after July 1, according to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
While the regime claims Green Dam will mainly block pornography, filter illicit content, and check browsing records, the software also has multiple controlling and tracking devices, including blocking sensitive Web sites and software used to evade China’s Great Firewall, taking screenshots every three minutes, and recording passwords.
Green Dam specifically targets Falun Gong. More than half of the blocked keywords relate to the spiritual practice that the regime has persecuted since 1999. A team at the University of Michigan discovered a file named “FalunWord.lib” with 37,468 Chinese characters, of which over 90 percent are Falun Gong-related. In the file, the word “610,” referring to the special task force established to persecute Falun Gong, appears 63 times.
Reports that an unnamed source claimed the regime will now make the software optional is almost beside the point, said Levi Browde, a Falun Dafa Information Center (FDI) spokesperson.
“The real issue here is—why is the regime forcing this software to be installed?” he said. “Despite the existing ‘Great Firewall' blocks, information exposing the CCP’s crimes against its own people is still being widely downloaded, printed, and distributed throughout China.
“Falun Gong practitioners with 200,000-plus underground print shops inside China and computer engineers overseas breaking through China’s firewall are a principle force behind that. What this software does is attempt to plug these holes and secure control over what Chinese people read, and, by extension, what they think.”
Browde is concerned that the Communist Party is ramping up its persecution against practitioners prior to July 20th—the ten-year anniversary of the launch of the campaign to “stamp out Falun Gong.”
On Tuesday, the Global Internet Freedom Consortium announced the release of “Green Tsunami,” a program that will remove or disable Green Dam from computers. The consortium has previously released Internet freedom software, such as Freegate, that is widely known to be the most effective in penetrating China’s Great Firewall.
Falun Gong practitioners in China regularly distribute the editorial series, “Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party”—writings that analyze and dissect the CCP’s history and inner workings.
Published by The Epoch Times, the book has become widely sought after inside China and has sparked a wave of symbolic denunciations of the CCP. Judging by studies of CCP censorship and blocking technology developed, the “Nine Commentaries,” is among the publications most feared by the CCP, according to a press release by FDI.
“The largest human rights abuse in China is against Falun Gong,” said Erping Zhang, spokesperson for Falun Gong. “It’s a fact the regime has tightened up its control and stepped up its efforts to persecute Falun Gong—it’s a clear indication of their failure to suppress Falun Gong. It suggests Falun Gong is still as strong as ever, if not stronger.”
The entire Green Dam program either steals from other well-developed programs or less-developed programs. Some of the program code libraries and configuration files are from the open-source image recognition software OpenCV, and some of the pornography URL blacklists were stolen from California-based developer Solid Oak’s Cybersitter software. In addition, Green Dam opens a back door in every computer that has it installed.