Friday, Oct 3, 2008
Skype has become the latest US firm embroiled in controversy over its operations in China, acknowledging that its Chinese partner had been archiving politically sensitive text messages.
Skype, the online text message and voice service owned by auction giant eBay, said on Thursday it had been unaware that the Internet chat of users in China was being stored on computer servers by Chinese mobile firm TOM Online.
Citizen Lab, a group of computer security experts at the University of Toronto, revealed Wednesday that TOM Online was spying on TOM-Skype users in China and collecting messages with specific keywords .
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Citizen Lab said the messages, with words such as “Tibet,” “Communist Party” or “Democracy,” contained Internet addresses, usernames and other information which could make the senders and recipients easily identifiable.
Skype president Josh Silverman said in a statement that TOM Online “just like any other communications company in China, has established procedures to meet local laws and regulations.
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“These regulations include the requirement to monitor and block instant messages containing certain words deemed ‘offensive’ by the Chinese authorities,” Silverman said.