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Canadian Researchers have claimed to find a large database, or surveillance system, which reveals China's storage of personal user data and filtering of conversations on Skype.

Citizen Lab, a research group based at the University of Toronto, claims to have found a database of information sent through Skype, consisting of thousands of politically sensitive words which had been blocked by China. Along with stored messages, the database also revealed personal data of Skype users.

The Canadian researchers found over 150,000 messages, which had been saved on the system after being sent through Skype’s modes of telephone and text messaging. “Democracy” and “Tibet” are examples of sensitive words found in some of these stored messages. Some also made reference to Falun Gong, a banned spiritual movement.

Personal data on Skype’s users also existed within the surveillance system. According to Citizen Lab, when entering one username into the database, it was possible to view all the people who had contact with this one user, whether those in contact had acted as a sender of messages or a recipient.

In their report entitled “Breaching Trust”, Citizen Lab continued to explain this lack of privacy; "These text messages, along with millions of records containing personal information, are stored on insecure publicly accessible web servers."

Skype, run as Tom-Skype in China, exists as a joint venture between eBay and TOM-Online, a private Chinese Internet company. Although Skype had always been open about its Chinese partners’ monitoring of information, it did share concern of breaches in the site’s security.

Citizen Lab went on to describe Tom as clearly "engaging in extensive surveillance with seemingly little regard for the security and privacy of Skype users".

According to Josh Silverman, Skype President, China’s surveillance was “common knowledge” and Tom Online “established procedures to meet local laws and regulations” including “the requirement to monitor and block instant messages containing certain words deemed offensive by the Chinese authorities.”

Silverman also explained that Tom Online's policy previously included blocking specific messages and then deleting them. He said he would be investigating why the allowance came in for the company to store those messages, rather than to dispose of them.



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RE: This is news?
By JasonMick (blog) on 10/7/2008 12:50:02 PM , Rating: 3
I think Chinese illegal immigration and Mexican illegal immigration are two different beasts.

The Chinese type is largely due to political reasons, which are outside our control.

However, the Mexican illegal immigration problem is very fixable, its just nobody seems to want to fix it. Basically it boils down to that there's a gross economic disparity between our two countries and then there's this double standard/blind eye on illegal immigration.

I'm not saying its the government's job to step in and fix this disparity. Rather I wish more companies would be like Siemens, one of my former employers and build plants in Mexico, increasing its citizens' standard of living.

Until Mexico is more prosperous there will be no solution to the illegal immigration problem. Its like building a series of mansions next to a slum. You can put up fences or pass nice neighborhood rules, but nothing is going to stop people from breaking into your cozy mansion -- they're desperate.


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