China caught ‘spying on Skype’

China has been monitoring 'politically sensitive' messages sent through Skype

China has been monitoring, censoring and storing politically sensitive messages sent through the online service Skype, say Canadian researchers.

Internet experts from the University of Toronto found a database containing thousands of messages containing specific keywords that had been blocked by Chinese authorities.

The database held more than 150,000 messages with words such as Tibet, Communist Party, democracy or words relating to the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong.

The usernames and other information of Skype subscribers – which could make senders and recipients of the messages easily identifiable – were also stored on the database.

Skype said it knew its Chinese partners ‘filtered’ data, but was unaware the content of users’ messages was being stored on computer servers by Chinese mobile firm TOM-Online.

Citizen Lab, the group of Canadian internet security experts, said it was ‘clear’ that TOM was ‘engaging in extensive surveillance with seemingly little regard for the security and privacy of Skype users’.

Skype said it is launching an investigation into why the messages were stored on databases.

China has banned its citizens from viewing many websites that it considers politically sensitive.

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