Eric Auchard– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –

The Chinese government has backed away from mandating filtering software on all personal computers in China, in a move that averts a dangerous escalation in its censorship powers.

But however controversial and unworkable China’s plan to require Internet filters on PCs proved to be, Western firms have largely themselves to blame for creating and selling such filters in the first place.

The danger rears its head whenever technology created to solve some specific security problem is put to new and unintended use, not just in repressive regimes like China, Iran or Saudi Arabia, but professed freedom-loving countries in Europe or the USA.

“What is good and what is evil?” asks Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at Finnish anti-virus software company F-Secure Corp. “It is really a very basic problem that security people face.”