A woman uses a laptop at a computer store in Beijing, China, Tuesday, June 30, 2009. A California company that says its software was illegally used in Beijing's new Internet filter threatened possible legal action as PC makers faced a Wednesday deadline to supply the system with computers. U.S. trade officials and industry and free-speech groups have also appealed to Beijing to revoke its order, which requires suppliers to pre-install the Green Dam filtering software or include it on a disk with each PC sold from July 1. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)
Sony appears to be the one of the first PC makers to start shipping computers with the controversial preinstalled Green Dam Youth Escort Internet filtering software mandated by China's government.
Last month, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) issued an edict requiring all desktop and laptop makers to begin manufacturing and shipping gear with the filtering software installed by July 1.
A Chinese blogger posted a photo on Twitter of what appears to be a Sony document
titled "Sony Disclaimer Notice Concerning the Green Dam Youth Escort Software" that came included with a Sony Vaio laptop discussing the Green Dam software. Another blogger, Rebecca MacKinnon, based at the University of Hong Kong, translated the document on her RCoversation blog
In the document, Sony appears to disclaim any responsibility for damage the Green Dam software may cause.
The Green Dam Youth Escort software mandate is said to be aimed at curbing the accessibility of pornography, violence and other content to children, the Chinese government has said. But reports indicate citizens have expressed concern over the potential for further censorship. Since news of the Green Dam Youth Escort requirement leaked several weeks ago, the Internet filtering software plan has been ensnared in controversy. Critics both inside and outside the country have said the software could also be used to censor politically sensitive Web sites such as those dealing with Tibet or the banned Falun Gong group.
Along with Sony, Taiwanese computer maker Acer has said it will comply with the Green Dam software rules, which indicate that PCs must ship with the software included, but that users have the option of whether to turn it on or off.
Critics outside China, including the U.S. government and U.S.-based computer manufacturers, have been getting involved in the debate. Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that a group of international business associations had issued a letter to the Chinese premier asking that the Green Dam mandate be lifted. The letter follows a complaint issued by the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Commerce Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.