Chinese Government Insists Parents Have Internet Filters

I know it makes the skin of any card carrying ACLU member crawl, but the Chinese government announced this week that all new computers being sold in the country need to have parental filtering software installed by July 1 of this year. Yes, it may be viewed as another hit to freedom of speech, but let’s keep it in perspective. Compared to the drastic political and communication restrictions imposed a couple of weeks ago during the 20th Anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, this is hardly a blip in the face of freedom of Chinese citizens. And, according to the developer of the software in an LA Times story, parents will have full control over how the filter is used and can even uninstall it if they wish.

Okay… I know this is dangerous territory, and I can’t believe that I have even the slightest feelings of approval for a yet another restriction being imposed on the citizens of this Communist country, but why can we not offer a similar service to parents in the West? How difficult would it be to ensure every computer is sold with some sort of parental filtering software? (Apple has already reached this point and has basic filtering controls included in all of its computers.)

It seems any attempts to offer parents some degree of ability to guide media decisions for their children is often viewed as an affront to the freedom of speech. Yet whenever a child gets into trouble with the law, we are quick to blame the parents: “Who raised that kid?”

If consumer electronics manufacturers aren’t going to give parents the tools they require to help guide children in this media-crazy era, than perhaps our own governments need to consider China’s model – but just this once!

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