Chinese government accused of piracy over Internet filter

June 16, 2009

Chinese government accused of piracy over internet filterAn American firm claims elements of the Chinese Internet filter to be distributed with all new machines are stolen from its own products. The accusation comes amid misleading reports that China’s government has backtracked over the system.

Solid Oak of California says it has examined the Green Dam Youth Escort system and believes it contains code taken from its CyberSitter software. The firm told the BBC that the code in question is encrypted in the original software, meaning it’s inconceivable there has been “an honest mistake.”

The Chinese company which developed Green Dam, Jinhui, denies stealing code. Solid Oak says it is considering taking legal action, but acknowledges that effectively taking on the Chinese government may well be an impossible task. In the meantime it is asking major U.S. manufacturers to not install the software on machines shipped to China.

Meanwhile there are several reports today which say the Chinese government has performed a U-turn after protests about the ‘compulsory’ element of the software. The reports note a government announcement today that manufacturers will not have to install the software and can instead supply it on a disc which ships with the machine.

However, this supposed climbdown appears to be overstated at best. As we mentioned in our original report, it has always been the case that manufacturers could put the software on a disc rather than the machine itself.

In other developments, the Chinese government has ordered Jinhui to fix “a series of security vulnerabilities” in the software. This appears to be a response to a report by researchers from the University of Michigan which uncovered some fundamental security flaws in the system.

Jinhui has agreed to make the changes, but says it is planning its own legal action against the Michigan researchers for allegedly infringing copyright by ‘cracking’ the software as part of their study.

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