The Wall Street Journal reports a scary development -- starting from July 1, all personal computers sold in China must have software that blocks access to certain websites.
It's yet another step in the government's ability to prevent (or protect, depending on which view you look at it) people from getting the information they want.
The government claims the main aim is to block access to pornography sites, thus calling the software "Green Dam-Youth Escort". The colour green in Chinese means free of illicit content, unlike yellow, which is a metaphor for porn.
The Green Dam software would link up the PCs to a regularly updated database of banned sites and prevent users from getting access to them.
While the government has yet to publicly announce this new policy on buying computers as of next month, its May 19 announcement says the requirement is aimed at "constructing a green, healthy and harmonious Internet environment, and preventing harmful information on the Internet from influencing and harming young people."
What's interesting is that Green Dam developers have said the software can be turned off or uninstalled -- but there was no indication of how easy that would be. It should also be noted the software developer has links to China's security ministry and military.
Also there's a fear that these computers, being linked to a main database, would be more susceptible to hacking.
The government is determined to control what people can and can't see on the Internet and this is yet another step on "protecting" its citizens.
However, for those who are more enlightened, the news couldn't be more frightening.
As soon as word gets out, especially in Chinese, people will be trying to buy up their PCs now before this software requirement comes into effect.
Do these PC makers realize people are not going buy their computers in China because they have become complicit in the government's demands? Join the queue behind Yahoo and Google...
And does the government realize these new computers may become more vulnerable to hacking? Or is this a way for the government to hack its own people's computers and go in and see what's in their hard drives?
It's a scary thought that can't be underestimated.
Wonder what Chinese Internet users, called "netizens" will think of this!