Canadian researchers have discovered that the Chinese wing of Skype, Ebay’s Internet communications company, has been monitoring its users’ text chats and scanning for sensitive keywords, including the word “democracy.”
The Register, a British technology publication, reported that a text filter scanned messages for the sensitive phrases that, if found, were uploaded and stored on servers in China.
Skype said that its Hong Kong-based partner, TOM Online, had put the text filter in place surreptitiously, and apologized for the breach of privacy.
The Citizen Lab, based at the University of Toronto, exposed the surveillance and created a list of words that triggered the text filter, the article said.
The filter looks for words like Taiwan independence, earthquake and milk powder — the latter referring to China’s recent tainted milk powder scandal.
The incident highlights the controversy around China’s ongoing surveillance, considered to be one of the largest governmental movements to censor information on the web.
“Skype admits Chinese privacy breach”
The Register, October 3, 2008