“Extremely Concerned” — Skype



UPDATE: Skype President Addresses Chinese Privacy Breach — Josh Silverman’s statement on the Skype blog.

The AFP reports:

Skype said it learned just Wednesday that a previously disclosed text filter operated by TOM-Skype, a joint venture between Chinese mobile firm TOM Online and Skype, had been altered.

“Last night, we learned that this practice was changed without our knowledge or consent and we are extremely concerned,” Skype, which is owned by US online auction house eBay, said.

“We deeply apologise for the breach of privacy relating to chat messages on TOM’s servers in China and we are urgently addressing this situation with TOM,” the company said.

AFP

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.

“These regulations include the requirement to monitor and block instant messages containing certain words deemed ‘offensive’ by the Chinese authorities,” Silverman said.

“It is common knowledge that censorship does exist in China and that the Chinese government has been monitoring communications in and out of the country for many years,” he said.

He recalled that in April 2006, Skype admitted that TOM Online “operated a text filter that blocked certain words in chat messages” and unsuitable messages were to be “discarded and not displayed or transmitted anywhere.”

“It was our understanding that it was not TOM’s protocol to upload and store chat messages with certain keywords, and we are now inquiring with TOM to find out why the protocol changed,” he said.

“We are currently addressing the wider issue of the uploading and storage of certain messages with TOM,” Silverman said, stressing that the millions of people around the world using standard Skype software were unaffected.

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