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Did those dictators in the 30’s really make the trains run on time?

The outside world’s view of the Chinese authoritarian state was frozen for decades in the images of the Cultural Revolution, when the slightest bit of dissent landed one in a “reeducation” camp, where Ph.D.s hoed vegetables to atone for the sin of questioning authority (or being Ph.Ds).

Then Mao died and things loosened up a bit. That period culminated in the image of the dude with the shopping bags standing in front of four dumbfounded tanks in Tiananmen Square. Then the authorities killed 2,500 protestors.

Now China has the Internet. The Green Dam Girl cartoons mocking censorship might be the image going forward.

Here are the latest twists in the saga of the Chinese government’s fiat that all new computers must be loaded with Green Dam-Youth Escort to “protect the young from pornography” {subliminal whisper: “…and 300 million Chinese Internet users from reading about Tiananmen Square protests.”}

— There have been about a thousand harassing phone calls to the software company that wrote, or plagiarized, Green Dam-Youth Escort, Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co. of Zhengzhou. They included late-night death threats. (More here.)

— Green Dam was patched for one vulnerability, though not well, and now vs. 3.17 is still open to remote exploitation. There has been a working exploit out there for a week.

The vulnerability was a buffer overflow that could result from overly-long URLs. They patched it but screwed up the math and the buffer is still too small. (More here. )

The Zinhui general manager Zhang Chenmin, was quoted as saying: “I never expected the software to have brought us so many troubles. Our aim is simply to protect children from Internet pornography.”

I wonder if they still have on staff at Zinhui the guy who said last year: “hey, we should look into doing government contract work.”

Oh, yea, and Sunbelt Software products detect Green Dam as spyware.

Tom Kelchner

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