Delaying, But Not Really Reversing Course

Beijing Delays Rule on Software Censor

China’s state-run news agency said late Tuesday that the government had postponed a requirement, set to take effect Wednesday, to equip all newly sold computers with software to filter out objectionable Internet content.

[…] As a practical matter, the abrupt postponement bows to reality, because most of China’s computer retailers have large stocks of machines, manufactured months before the decree was announced, that have yet to be sold. Many global computer makers have declined to say how they would comply with the requirement, apparently hoping that the government would delay or reverse its decision under international pressure.

China’s industry and information technology ministry has cast the order as a move to shield children from obscene or violent Internet sites. But critics and technology experts here and abroad have called it an ill-concealed effort to rein in online criticism of the government and other speech that Beijing considers subversive.