SHANGHAI (AFP) — Several PC makers said Friday they were voluntarily including China's controversial Internet filter software in new shipments despite Beijing's decision to postpone making it mandatory.
The government had been set to introduce the Chinese-made "Green Dam Youth Escort" programme but announced the delay hours before its implementation on July 1.
Customer service staff at PC makers including Taiwan's Acer Inc and China's Haier Group said they were nevertheless installing or packaging the software with all new PCs -- but added it was easy to uninstall.
"You will find it with our PCs, as the state has requested. But ... you can easily find a patch on the Internet to uninstall it," one of Acer's service staff told AFP on the phone, asking not to be named.
Beijing has said the software was aimed at filtering out pornography, but computer experts found it was also programmed to suppress politically sensitive material, prompting criticism at home and abroad.
Lenovo, China's biggest computer maker, did not immediately reply to questions on Green Dam, but the official English-language China Daily newspaper said the software was included with the firm's PCs.
A Tokyo-based Sony spokeswoman told AFP the programme is on its China-made computers and customers can install it if they so choose.
"We have distributed it with our personal computers as a set-up file in the hard drive software," she said.
"The users can choose whether to activate the software or not. So it's up to the customers to choose whether to install it or not. But it's already on the hard disk."
She declined to speculate on how much longer Sony would keep installing the software, saying: "We cannot really comment on the future."
An official with China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, which licensed the technology from two local software developers, told the newspaper Thursday that the delay of the directive was only temporary.
"The government will definitely carry out the directive on Green Dam. It's just a matter of time," the unnamed official was quoted as saying.
But Mao Shoulong, a professor of public administration at People's University in Beijing, said the issue was likely not yet resolved.
"I believe there is some dispute on the matter within the government and we will continue to see some indecision (by authorities)," Mao told AFP.
The unprecedented nature of the matter made it difficult to predict, he said, but added the government may abandon the software plan "if the backlash is very strong."
Some other PC makers said they are still discussing the matter with the government and are not installing the software without Beijing's final word.
US personal computer giant Dell said in a statement: "We continue our discussions with the Chinese government and are not shipping Green Dam software."
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