Skype's Been Hijacked in China, and Microsoft Is O.K. With It - Businessweek
: " . . . . Knockel, a bearded, yoga-practicing son of a retired U.S. Air Force officer, has repeatedly beaten the ever-changing encryption that cloaks Skype’s Chinese service. This has allowed him to compile for the first time the thousands of terms—such as “Amnesty International” and “Tiananmen”—that prompt Skype in China to intercept typed messages and send copies to its computer servers in the country. Some messages are blocked altogether. The lists—which are the subject of a presentation Knockel will make on Friday, March 8, at Boston University, as well as a paper he’s writing with researchers from the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab—shed light on the monitoring of Internet communications in China. Skype’s videophone-and-texting service there, with nearly 96 million users, is known as TOM-Skype, a joint venture formed in 2005 with majority owner Tom Online, a Chinese wireless Internet company. The words that are subject to being monitored, which Knockel updates almost daily on his department’s website, range from references to pornography and drugs to politically sensitive terms, including “Human Rights Watch,” “Reporters Without Borders,” “BBC News,” and the locations of planned protests. (The system he traced does not involve voice calls.) Knockel says his findings expose a conflict between Microsoft’s advocacy of privacy rights and its role in surveillance. Microsoft, which bought Skype in 2011, is a founding member of the Global Network Initiative, a group that promotes corporate responsibility in online freedom of expression. “I would hope for more,” Knockel says of Microsoft. “I would like to get a statement out of them on their social policy regarding whether they approve of what TOM-Skype is doing on surveillance.” On Jan. 24, an international group of activists and rights groups published an open letter to Skype, calling on it to disclose its security and privacy practices. Microsoft, when asked for comment on Knockel’s findings and activists’ concerns, issued a statement it attributed to an unnamed spokesperson for its Skype unit.“. . . ."
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