This morning, China’s Xinhua news agency announced that the country’s IT ministry has decided to indefinitely delay the rollout of its “Green Dam for Escorting Children” Internet filter software, which was supposed to have been mandatory for PCs sold in that country beginning tomorrow. This after reports that the software — whose code US-based software firm Solid Oak software claims was pilfered from its own filter products — didn’t actually work very well in real-world tests.
As Reuters reported earlier this morning, prior to China’s announcement, Garfield the cartoon cat was a particular target of Green Dam’s image filter, as was the face of actor Johnny Depp. However, actual pornography managed to get through just fine.
The problem — extremely ironically — may have to do with what the software thinks it’s focusing upon, particularly skin color. A kind of volume knob in the software apparently turns up or down the image filter’s sensitivity to certain shades of skin. However, certain other skin colors may be breaking through the filter, and perhaps you know where this topic is headed.
Meanwhile, the executive in charge of Jinhui, the software company responsible for Green Dam (and accused by Solid Oak of stealing its code) may not be readily available to help fix the problem. As Zhang Chenmin told Xinhua last week, he and his family have been receiving anonymous death threats. Translated into English, Chenmin told China’s press authority, “I never expected the software to have brought us so many troubles. Our aim is simply to protect children from Internet pornography.”