Skype admits privacy breach in China

By on October 2, 2008, 5:50 PM
It's no secret that businesses who want to enter the Internet market in China have to sometimes do some unsavory things to comply with government regulations. Thus, it doesn’t really come as much of a surprise to learn that a surveillance system is being used to monitor and block Skype conversations. What’s more troubling, though, is that the company claims the practice was changed for a more aggressive one without their knowledge or consent.

Instead of just blocking certain text messages with sensitive words from reaching their destination, it appears that a joint venture between Skype and Chinese wireless carrier Tom Online was allowing authorities to monitor these conversations and store them on a web server. The logs include a treasure-trove of personal information, such as e-mail addresses, passwords, phone numbers, package tracking numbers and bank card numbers.

What’s worst, many of the captured messages contain words that are too common, suggesting that there may be other more specific criteria to determine whether a conversation should be captured by the system. Skype officials said to be “extremely concerned” over this situation and promised a fix soon.

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