China obviously keeps a close eye on its internet users and doesn’t like to tolerate political dissent, even in the cyber space. Interestingly, Microsoft is apparently enabling the country to keep track of its Skype users and be alerted every time any Chinese user makes use of a ‘suspicious’ keyword.
This has been revealed by a student at University of Mexico, Jeffrey Knockel. According to Knockel, he was able to lay his hands on a list of more than 1100 keywords which are actively used by the Chinese regime to keep eyes on the users of TOM-Skype.
TOM-Skype is China’s Skype-client. The list, Knockel cites, primarily comprises of political terms which means that every time a TOM-Skype users sends any message which may include any of the suspicious keywords, an alert is sent straight to TOM-Skype servers.
The alert message sent to the servers includes the account name of the user, time stamp of the message and the exact word that triggered the alert. This latest revelation clearly establishes that the Chinese government is adamant on making its cyber space an Orwellian nightmare and is doing everything it can to actively monitor all its users.
Meanwhile, the sad aspect of the incident is that Microsoft seems to be cooperating with the oppressive regime quite eagerly. The company has been repeatedly criticized for not being transparent about TOM-Skype and now may be the right time for the company to tell privacy activists how TOM-Skype is helping China intercept the communications of its people.
Source: Business Week