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China Censoring Skype

China Censoring Skype

A Canadian research group called Citizen Lab, which is associated with the University of Toronto, has turned up a publicly available Chinese database that not only contains literally thousands of politically sensitive words blocked by the state, but also the names and details of Skype subscribers, meaning that the state has been censoring and blocking VoIP Skype calls and texts, according to the BBC.

Citizen Lab says the Chinese system picks up and stores messages using the sensitive terms, and has over 150,000 in its database – which seems to be not especially secure, according to Citizen Lab’s Breaching Trust report.

"These text messages, along with millions of records containing personal information, are stored on insecure publicly accessible web servers."

In China, Skype, known as Tom-Skype, is a joint venture between eBay and China’s TOM-Online. Citizen Lab claims that the company is "engaging in extensive surveillance with seemingly little regard for the security and privacy of Skype users."

Skype president Josh Silverman acknowledged the monitoring as “common knowledge” and that the company worked with local laws. He noted:

"These regulations include the requirement to monitor and block instant messages containing certain words deemed offensive by the Chinese authorities."

However, he would be investigating the policy change that allowed these messages to be uploaded onto the database.

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