China’s net software could do harm

Mitchell Hartman Jun 26, 2009
HTML EMBED:
COPY

China’s net software could do harm

Mitchell Hartman Jun 26, 2009
HTML EMBED:
COPY

TEXT OF STORY

Renita Jablonski: Starting Wednesday, all computers sold in China — including those made by U.S. manufacturers — are supposed to be equipped with new Internet-filtering software. The Chinese government says it will stop people from surfing dirty Web sites. Critics say Beijing actually wants to spy on Chinese PC-users and block them from political Web sites. A trade spat over the technology may be brewing, as Mitchell Hartman reports.


Mitchell Hartman: The software’s made by an obscure Chinese company. Analysts who’ve looked at the code say it’s not just intrusive — it’s lousy.

Danny O’Brien: It’s not a particularly well-written piece of software. It has a lot of security flaws.

Danny O’Brien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation says it’ll let Chinese spooks monitor millions of Chinese PCs and give cyber-thugs everywhere a piece of the action.

O’Brien: Spammers and other fraudsters will be able to use this as a platform to launch attacks all over the world.

That’s bad news for U.S. companies like Dell and H-P that have to stick this software on their brand-name computers. But analyst David Vorhaus of the Yankee Group says they don’t have much choice.

David Vorhaus: It’s a PR nightmare, but at the same time they can’t afford to be forsaking the Chinese market.

U.S. officials are sounding off, calling this “unjustified” and a “serious barrier to trade.” But, Vorhaus says:

Vorhaus: They’re not going to shut down U.S.-China trade. That would be foolish.

He says there could be limited trade sanctions, along with demands the Chinese FIX the software, making it less oppressive and open to cyber-attack.

I’m Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.

Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.

In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.

Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.