The Green Dam Cyber-Censor Case

TitleThe Green Dam Cyber-Censor Case
Publication TypeCase Study
Year of Publication2010
PublisherScience, Technology and Society Initiative at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsCOMPUTER science , ELECTRICAL engineering , INTELLECTUAL freedom , Privacy and Surveillance
AbstractIn 2009, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China publicly released a directive stating that soon all computers sold in China would be required to include Green Dam Youth Escort software, an internet filtering program that, according to the government, is intended to prevent children from viewing violent and pornographic web sites. There was immediate international concern that the software could be used by the government to monitor and restrict all citizen internet use, including politically-sensitive material, and there is even suspicion that the software can be used to intrude on individuals' privacy and autonomy in other ways.  As the Chinese Government has delayed the enforcing this requirement, computer software and hardware companies are struggling as they try to balance upholding western values of pr ovacy and freedom and potential public backlash if they adhere to these standards, and the huge potential market share that China offers.  The case explores questions of privacy and business ethics, and asks students to imagine themselves s as software engineers who are working on small modules of a larger product, and the courses of action open to companies if the codes they are working on could be used for unlawful or unethical ends. 
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