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China Found Filtering Skype Messages October 5, 2008

Posted by Joanne KY Teoh in Civic Media, News, Social Media.
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A group of Canadian human-rights activists and computer security researchers has found that China monitors and censors messages sent through the Internet service Skype. Citizen Lab says it discovered a huge surveillance system last month that monitors and archives certain Web text conversations that include politically charged words.

The researchers found a database with thousands of politically sensitive words which had been blocked by China. In just two months, the servers archived more than 166,000 censored messages from 44,000 users, according to the report on the Information Warfare Monitor.

The list included words such as “democracy” and “Tibet” as well as phrases relating to banned spiritual movement, Falun Gong, Taiwan independence and the Chinese Communist Party. It also had words like earthquake and milk powder. Chinese officials are facing criticism in their handling of earthquake relief and chemicals tainting milk powder.

These text messages, along with millions of records containing personal information, are stored on insecure publicly accessible Web servers. By using one username, it was possible to identify all the people who had sent messages to or received them from the original user.

Skype, operated in China as Tom-Skype, a joint venture of American auction site, eBay and Chinese company TOM-Online, said it was concerned by breaches in the security of the site. Citizen Lab said it was “clear” that Tom was “engaging in extensive surveillance with seemingly little regard for the security and privacy of Skype users”.

China is not alone in Web spying efforts. The US National Security Agency was reported to have monitored telephone and Internet communications into and out of America as part of the eavesdropping program to hunt for evidence of terrorist activity after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Web use is high in China, but authorities have long prevented citizens from accessing sites deemed politically sensitive. Web companies Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have been criticised by human-rights groups for adhering to China’s strict regulations.

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Comments»

1. Hintswen.com » Blog Archive » China filtering our skype conversations - October 6, 2008

[…] China Found Filtering Skype Messages […]


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