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Schools in Beijing, China, are removing the government-mandated Green Dam Internet censorship software because it interferes with educational software.

The technology director of Beijing Number 50 High School posted a note on the school’s web site that Green Dam “…has strong conflicts with teaching software we need for normal work.”

In May, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology had ordered the Green Dam Youth Escort filtering software to be installed on all computers sold in China after July 1, but rescinded the order for the general public after a flurry of controversies, although schools and Internet cafes were told to install it.

The problems included:

— Green Dam is clearly spyware since it monitors key strokes and Sunbelt and other major anti-virus companies classified it as a surveillance tool.

— A flawed patch for Green Dam was issued, but it left the software vulnerable to exploitation for more than a week after a buffer overflow was discovered that could be exploited by an overly-long URL.

— The Chinese government said it was to block pornography and “unhealthy” content, but activists found that two thirds of the key words it filtered had political significance.

— Solid Oak Software of Santa Barbara, Calif., said June 12 that code from its CyberSitter software was used extensively in Green Dam-Youth Escort. It sent cease-and-desist letters to U.S. PC manufacturers who were expecting to install it for the Chinese market. Solid Oak brought lawsuits in the U.S. and China.

— China’s fiat that the censorship software was to be installed drew protests from the U.S. (as a violation of China’s agreement with the World Trade Organization), the leaders of 22 international business groups and the European Union.

Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co. of Zhengzhou, the company that won the Chinese government’s contract to write the application, got $6 million, late night harassing phone calls and some death threats.

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