by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
December 3, 2008
The southern Chinese city of Nanchang has announced new requirements for its internet cafes which will make access to online casinos more difficult for its users. With cafes instructed to install a Chinese developed operating system, concerns have mounted over “cyber-snooping” by authorities.
According to the Associated Press, the new rules were implemented one month ago, although never officially announced. The use of the new program was made in response to a pirated software said Hu Shenghua, a spokesperson for the Culture Bureau in Nanchang.
The enforcement of this new rule will force internet café owners to remove any unlicensed software and replace it with copies of either Microsoft Windows or Chinese-developed Red Flag Linux operating system – with a fee to top it off.
The Associated press says otherwise, claiming that even users who had authorized copies of Windows installed on their computers were forced to install Red Flag Linux. The AP quoted Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet Project who said that the new rules would help authorities snoop on internet cafes that “now operate on the margins of the law.”
Those who access Chinese internet cafes are already required to register with identification cards. No matter where the internet is accessed, Chinese specialists patrol internet content, searching for content that they feel is politically subversive or related to online casino gambling, pornography or other sources of inappropriate content.
One Chinese internet café owner told the Associated Press that officials came to his establishment demanding that he replace the pirated software previously used. The owner claims that the new regulations had “dramatically” increased his business costs, but that the operating system was praised for having improved performance.
China has the largest concentration of internet users, pegged at 253 million.
“It makes sense for internet cafés are to use [Red Flag] because of their high user traffic and the system’s safeguards against viruses, “ said Fan Hongguan, a spokesman for Red Flag.
The company’s About Us section reads, “ With the continuous progress of computer and network technologies, the productivity has reached a new level. The birth of Linux has further triggered a revolution of open source and freedom. Today, Red Flag Software Co., Ltd. (Red Flag Software), the largest and most rapidly developed Linux vendor in China, is emerging as part of the leading force of this revolution. By providing high quality Linux related products and services, Red Flag Software brings a new computing experience to customers, helps enterprise to stay ahead of the competition, and transforms the Linux technologies and the spirit of open source into the business value of customers.
“Since its founding on June 2000, Red Flag Software is growing rapidly and firmly to be the largest Linux company in China with more than 150 employees. Under headquarter located in Beijing, there are two subsidiaries in Guangzhou and Shanghai, and well-established sales channels and service networks are deployed nationwide. The product line includes high-end Linux server OS, cluster system, desktop OS, embedded system, technical support services and trainings. Red Flag Linux has been adopted by plenty of industries, including government, China post, education, telecommunication, finance, insurance, transport, power, logistics, media, manufacture, etc.”