China Cuts Funding for 'Green Dam' Web Filter

China Cuts Funding for 'Green Dam' Web Filter

The makers of controversial Chinese Internet filtering software say they are struggling financially after being cut off from government funding.

Green Dam Youth Escort was launched last year with the stated goal of protecting children from pornography and violent content on the Internet.

But the Chinese government backed off from requiring it to be installed on all personal computers sold in China in the face of complaints, including warnings it could be used to censor political content.

An official at one of the makers (Beijing Dazheng Human Language Technology Academy) confirmed Wednesday the company had been forced to move to new offices because of financial problems, but said it is still in business with 30 employees.

Chinese state media said the company has received no government funding since a $6.2 million payment in May 2009.

Meanwhile, Chinese Web users are anticipating a crackdown on microblogging sites similar to Twitter following service disruptions on several such sites over the past week.

The sites sprang up last year to fill the gap after the government blocked popular foreign-based sites including Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.

But one of those sites (Netease.com) was inaccessible Wednesday with a notice saying it was "under maintenance" and another (Sohu.com) was down for three days over the weekend.

Several sites show the words "beta" or "test version" on their home pages, and unnamed industry sources have been quoted saying they are facing pressure from government censors.

China's attempt to control what people read and say on the Internet was highlighted by its recent dispute with Google. The American company was told its license to operate in China would not be renewed unless it stopped its practice of automatically transferring Chinese users to an uncensored website in Hong Kong.

Some information for this news was provided by AFP and Reuters