Skype Accused Of Helping Chinese Censors

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An American-based distributor of underground software that helps Chinese citizens get around government firewalls and access censored websites is accusing Skype of aiding the government by redirecting users to a website monitored and filtered by Chinese authorities.

Skype Accused Of Helping Chinese Censors
Skype Accused Of Helping Chinese Censors

Bill Xia, former Chinese resident and now president of North Carolina-based Dynamic Internet Technology, Inc., has become a long-distance revolutionary, supplying hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens with DIT’s Freegate software to get around government censors.

He uses whatever technology is at his disposal: changing IPs to get around IP blocking; releasing new domain names where the software can be downloaded; posting links on forums; sending emails so people can find wherever DynaWeb (where Freegate is downloaded) is currently.

On September 13, 2007, DIT began using eBay-owned Skype so users could communicate with them directly. Xia says that ten days later, on the morning of September 23, Skype’s website began redirecting Chinese users to Skype.tom.com, a modified site created in cooperation with Chinese-based Tom.com.

Xia believes the sudden redirection is the result of Chinese government pressure and that Chinese Skype users are now at risk of being monitored and reported to authorities.

Xia told WebProNews of a process running in the background of the Skype/Tom.com collaborative website named contentfilter.exe that not only blocks access to certain content, but also censors text messages containing forbidden subject matter. Words such as "Falun Gong" and "dalai lama" will not go through in the messages.

"We’re sure it’s not a redirection from the firewall of the Chinese government but from Skype itself," he said. Xia believes Skype did so at the request of the Chinese government.

He also says that DIT recommended accessing www.skype.com, and using the simplified Chinese version of the US-based website instead, but users were still redirected to the Tom.com website. Xia says they can still access the US-based version, but only with a much longer URL.

A spokesperson from Skype was unavailable for comment and requests for comment made to eBay were not returned.   



Skype Accused Of Helping Chinese Censors
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