Skype, Censorship and China – A shameful nexus

In what is a shameful and outrageous admission, noted VoIP provider Skype recently admitted that a joint venture in China Monitors users communications. Global Insight breaks it down thus,

Significance

Skype has admitted breaching customer privacy with its Chinese joint-venture.

Implications

Several internet companies, including Google and Yahoo, have been criticised in the past for being too helpful in enabling censorship in China.

Outlook

A group of international internet service companies, including Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, are drawing up a voluntary code of conduct in negotiations with human-rights groups, academics and investors.

First revelations that Skype wasn’t as secure as it made itself out to be came from Austria. These reports from China don’t help in restoring public confidence in the company, even though in many cases, it is still by far the most secure communications platform available for the likes of human rights and media freedom defenders. As reported by Reuters,

“We may never know whether some of those people whose conversations were logged have gone to jail or have had their lives ruined in various ways as a result of this,” said Rebecca MacKinnon, an Internet expert at Hong Kong University. “This is a big blow to Skype’s credibility, despite the fact that Skype executives are downplaying it as not such a big deal.”

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