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October 02, 2008


Peter Parkes (Skype Blogger)

While this doesn't excuse the privacy breach, it's important to remember that the issues highlighted in the Information Warfare Monitor / ONI Asia report affect only the TOM-Skype software distributed in China, and not standard versions of Skype. Skype-to-Skype communications are, and always have been, completely secure and private.

Josh Silverman, Skype's President, has blogged about the situation, explaining where we stand and what we're doing to sort things out.


I don't understand why this is news. It should only be surprising if Beijing weren't bugging it. I would think that everyone would of understood Beijing's position on this by now. More predictable tedious outrage from the usual suspects.

Maxwell Smart (Agent 86)

Are Chinese spies monitoring Fonterra and New Zealanders?
New Zealand Green MP Keith Locke said on Green's website.http://www.greens.org.nz/node/20017

“Our Government should make an official complaint about China’s surveillance of Skype communications, which may include business communications from New Zealand firms such as Fonterra, as well as personal conversations,”

“Some family members could get a black security mark if they made candid comments on Skype about democracy, Tibetan rights or the SanLu-Fonterra scandal."

“Now that New Zealand has a free trade and investment agreement with China, we should use what leverage we have to ensure the privacy of business communications."

“Privacy in China is a one-way street. In China, secrecy and state control was used to cover up the milk powder scandal, and at the same time the efforts to bring it to light was being secretly monitored”.

Jim Courtney (Skype Journal)

eBay appointed a new President of Skype back in March who has been reviewing all of Skype's activities worldwide; he is currently in the process of restructuring and reorganizing Skype. One key difference in this situation is that, for the first time in Skype's five year history, when a crisis situation arose, the President of Skype has personally responded rather than leave a situation to fester amidst speculation. Reviewing the TOM relationship gets added to a list of many business issues they must (and are) addressing over the next few months.

As an FYI, Skype Journal is one blog that is totally blocked by the Great Chinese Firewall.


I agree with the commenter who said "It should only be surprising if Beijing weren't bugging it."

What I found most interesting in your post is the fact that "These text messages, along with millions of records containing personal information, are stored on insecure publicly-accessible web servers together with the encryption key required to decrypt the data."

You have blogged before about some Chinese bloggers behaving independently of the government while aggressively supporting its stance, and sometimes going out of control. Maybe I am seeing too much into this, but I feel like whoever posted such information on the web wanted hot heads to decrypt it and then launch into a witch hunt by themselves against the people critical of the government. That would have allowed the government to say they had nothing to do with it, while getting their job done. What do you think?

Of course the main issue is that Skype was supposed to have control over where the data was stored. So either someone was very stupid, or Beijing placed its friends in many places. Which should be as little surprising as it bugging Internet chats.


It IS interesting to note, however, that the US and Europe had been monitoring Skype conversations for several years prior, as the New York Times highlighted in another article.

In this respect, China is not alone.


The commotion is less about bugging and more about Nart Villeneuve hacking the system and being able to see the stored information. read more here: http://www.laowise.com/blog/view/10

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