Chinese web surfers are asking computer users worldwide to boycott the internet on July 1, in protest against a controversial software filter being used by the Chinese government.

The Chinese government has decreed that filtering software called "Green Dam" – sold by Jinhui Computer System Engineering Co. – be pre-installed on personal computers manufactured or shipped after July 1, ostensibly to block an influx of western pornography into China.

"Many web users and activists both inside and outside China fear a campaign against "unhealthy" sites is a pretext for a wider crackdown on groups and websites that the government fears or disapproves of," notes Reuters this week.

Olympic designer backs protest

Olympic Bird's Nest stadium designer and Beijing-based artist Ai Weiwei is one of the most pre-eminent members of the group calling on web surfers worldwide to boycott the internet for a day.

"Stop any online activities, including working, reading, chatting, blogging, gaming and mailing," Ai wrote in a Twitter post. "Don't explain your behavior."

"In order to prevent the transmission on the Internet of violence, and of vulgar information that harms young people ... there must be some form of public authority backing up social rights," noted the Editor of the influential Caijing business magazine, Hu Shuli.

"But the help should be a kind of service, must not be coercive, and should have the acceptance of society. Otherwise ... it will certainly be thwarted," she added.