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    Update: Wall Street Journal: Schools Defy Beijing, Remove Web Filter

    I have blogged about China seeking to require censorship software (called Green Dam-Youth Escort) be preinstalled on computers sold in the country. But, the software was plagued both by technical problems and bad publicity from privacy and civil liberties restrictions. China decided to postpone the mandatory preinstallation, but some computer makers are forging ahead anyway.

    However, China also said that schools, Internet cafes and other public computers would need to have Green Dam-Youth Escort installed. Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that some schools in China are removing the Web-filtering software because of technological problems.

    Schools are still required to use the software, called Green Dam-Youth Escort, but the extent to which they heed the requirement is unclear. Calls to a number of schools gave a varied picture: Some schools use the software, others installed it but have since removed it, and yet others never installed it. The disparity may be a result of how stringently local governments enforce the requirement.

    Beijing’s No. 50 High School posted a notice on its Web site this month saying, “In order to ensure a smooth operation of the school’s daily education and teaching tasks, we will gradually remove the ‘Green Dam’ software soon for all the computers with Internet access.”

    Wang Zhenyu, the teacher in charge of Internet management, said the school installed Green Dam on more than 400 computers. He said the school soon realized that teachers could no longer access the intranet programs they need to manage students’ information and review their performances.

    In Shanghai, Wang Bing, a computer teacher at Changzheng Middle School, said Green Dam had a “serious conflict” with antivirus software by McAfee Inc., which is required by the school’s district education committee. Once Green Dam was installed, the computers “died” immediately after being turned on, so the school uninstalled it on all but a few computers placed in classrooms for teachers, he said.

    China has been focusing more on identifying Internet users. Recently, the New York Times reported that the Chinese government secretly ordered news Web sites to require individuals to use their real names and identities when commenting on the sites. Last year, Xinhua News Agency (which is controlled by the Chinese government) reported that China has started photographing and identifying users of Beijing’s Internet cafes. Rebecca McKinnon (Assistant Professor at the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre) has written an interesting piece about China’s censorship of blogs and the assistance it receives from blog hosting companies.

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