back to article China Skype service snags and stores users' messages

Human rights advocates have uncovered a huge surveillance system in China that monitors and archives text messages sent with the Tom-Skype chat client when they contain politically charged words. Activists with Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto say they found a cluster of computers in China that had logged more than one …


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  1. The Cube

    And how is this different to western governments?

    Warrantless wiretapping by the Bush administration in the grey house followed up by retrospective laws to cover up criminal activity, permanent and pervasive surveillance of everything from number plates to Internet traffic in the UK, constant illegal activity by the police and government, the list goes on. We are in no position to criticise either China or Ebay over this as our own governments do this with the same corporations on a regular basis. Don't even mention human rights, all the Chinese need to say is 'Guantanemo', half of Europe is complicit in that crime too. The only failure here was poor security on the setup, we should at least have had to wait for some incompetent git from the government to leave CDs of the data on a train...

  2. Beachhutman

    What do you know?

    That PDF link is blocked in China!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Ask yourself how they can tap this..

    The only way you can reliably break into comms like this is by either tapping a central point (which would stuff scalability) or by bugging the software. I have a feeling this has been in the code for a long time.

    Figures, yet again a US product. Windows, anyone?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pretty easy to spot...

    ...that it was a Chinese system it was encrypted to prevent snooping It had been British, it would have been in plain text, along with your Bank details.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    sounds like the socialist republic of brownistan

    I don't know. Those Chinese are turning their country into some sort of Britain, circa 2008. A dictatorial marxist government, unelected, widely despised and trying to control everyone with an all seeing eye of surveillance and paid lackeys.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @The Cube

    Yes, and non of those are ever critisised by El Reg.

    Makeing comments like "the gray house" dose not make you clever, it makes you look like a fool.

    Aslo, Who uses Skype anyway? Its like admiting you are on AOL.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: What do you know?

    > That PDF link is blocked in China!

    Agreed (using ISP in Nanjing). Thankfully proxies are everywhere.

    I thought something like this might be happening when there was one version for China and one for everybody else. This is why I emailed my family the international version, made them install that and give a copy to anybody they know using the TOM-skype client. I suggest anybody else with friends or family in China does the same.

    Anonymous and through not one but two proxies (i.e. two layers of encryption) for obvious reasons.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Secure VOIP

    OK, I never used AOL, but I do use Skype for private calls.

    What's the best secure Voip client and can it integrate (for insecure calls) with Skype?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    For God's sake don't tell the Labour government about this: they'll pass a law that says Skye has to save the messages for 6 years and give access to 150 different organisations unlimited access to them, with the Police and Security services accounting for 3 of the 150.

  10. J


    "Human rights advocates have uncovered a huge surveillance system in China"

    In CHINA? Who'd have thought...

    FOSS can save the day though.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    you know

    It's interseting, China (a state known not to like political decent much) stores messages and it's all over the mainstream media - the states allows no holds bar invasion of privacy at borders and illegal wiretapping, I've seen little mention of it anywhere. The UK government (okay now whitehall plan on doing it instead) plans a massive data silo and again no word in the mainstream press...

    Man I love how impartial mainstream media seems to be.

  12. Big Al

    The Times has much more...

    Oh no it doesn't!

    The Times is a prestigious newspaper published in London.

    The New York Times is a prestigious newspaper published in New York.

    In the global village, surely one needs to be more careful about using local slang when referring to the media of record?

  13. Anonymous Coward

    If you want to communicate securely

    If you want to communicate securely, always do the encryption yourself on your end, and have the recipient do the decryption themselves on their end. Never rely on the carrier - you'll never be able to verify their handling.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    If you must use Skype, add an encryption layer

    Something like Phil Zimmermann's (the creator of PGP) ZFone. It's not perfect as it uses a negotiated key, and so like SSL can be compromised by a man-in-the-middle, but its better than relying on Skype itself.

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