Comments about Skype chat text filtering in China
Update: See Josh Silverman’s blog post for more details on the October 2008 security breach.
Today’s Financial Times posted a story about how Skype’s partner TOM Online is filtering text messages in China.
Skype has a joint venture with TOM Online. As part of that venture, we provide a co-branded version of Skype called TOM-Skype, which is the version of Skype that is available in mainland China.
As part of the joint venture, TOM provides guidance to Skype about how to co-operate with local laws and regulations in China. In every country we operate in, we always work with local authorities to follow local laws and best practice.
TOM operates a text filter in TOM-Skype. The filter operates solely on text chats. The filter has a list of words which will not be displayed in Skype chats.
The text filter operates on the chat message content before it is encrypted for transmission, or after it has been decrypted on the receiver side. If the message is found unsuitable for displaying, it is simply discarded and not displayed or transmitted anywhere.
It is important to underline:
- The text filter does not affect in any way the security and encryption mechanisms of Skype.
- Full end-to-end security is preserved and there is no compromise of people’s privacy.
- Calls, chats and all other forms of communication on Skype continue to be encrypted and secure.
- There is absolutely no filtering on voice communications.