China censors light-colored nude photos; darker skin gets through filter

By: Rebekah Heacock on 10 June 2009

The latest news in the world of Internet censorship is about China's Green Dam software, which ostensibly protects Chinese children by filtering out pornographic Web sites. The OpenNet Initiative reported on the software yesterday.

China has recently announced that all PCs sold in the country must come with the software, beginning on July 1, 2009. Critics say Green Dam will be used to crack down on Internet users, making it even more difficult to access uncensored information from China.

In addition to blocking sites that include keywords such as "pornography" and, somewhat less justifiably, "touch" and "play," the software also filters out images that have a high percentage of "skin colored" pixels. Oiwan Lam at Global Voices rounded up Chinese reactions to the software; among them was this comment:

"How much flesh color does it take to make something 'pornography'? I went on the Internet to check out some animal photos. A lovely little naked pig was sent onto the black list. Pitiful little pig! I was curious, so I looked up some photos of naked African women. Oh, they were not censored!"

For the latest news on Green Dam, check out the #greendam hashtag on Twitter.