Chinese state media on June 11 issued an unprecedented defense of newly required internet filtering software that must be packaged with every computer sold in China starting next month, after a public outcry at home and abroad, reports the Associated Press. Although the government says the software is aimed at blocking violence and pornography, users who have tried it say it prevents access to a wide range of topics, from discussions of homosexuality to images of comic book characters such as Garfield the cat. Chinese authorities rarely feel compelled to justify their tight internet controls on the world’s largest population of internet users. They are quick to block content challenging the ruling Communist Party’s positions on democratic reform, religious freedom, and policies toward Tibet. But, put on the defensive, state broadcaster CCTV announced on its noon news program that a "vast number of parents and experts" had endorsed the "Green Dam-Youth Escort" filtering software that must be packaged with all units sold in China from July 1. The official Communist Party newspaper Guangming Daily ran an almost identical report and praised the software as a new breakthrough in the drive for a "civilized internet management and access." The software requirement has prompted widespread derision among China’s more than 250 million internet users, who either accept government controls or have learned to evade them…

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