Feeds

Microsoft announces new Skype China partner

Guangming Founder gets the gig as snooping fears persist

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Microsoft has announced a new JV partner offering Skype services to users in China, but it's likely to continue monitoring text chats and blocking banned keywords according to local laws.

Previous China partner TOM wrongly declared earlier this month that Microsoft would be taking sole control of Skype in China from 24 November.

That can't happen by law. In fact Redmond has found another partner – Guangming Founder (GMF) which will operate the service locally.

A canned statement from Judd Harcombe, head of global market development at Skype, spoke of the new collaboration putting both firms “at the heart of helping people do more by creating connections and bringing them together”.

However, as a local service it should still have to comply with local laws, which means automatically filtering and blocking text conversations if they contain banned keywords and storing a copy of the message to its servers.

There is a suspicion that voice comms data must also be stored so that it can be made available to the authorities on request.

The beef that many rights groups have about this is not necessarily that Microsoft is complying with local regulations - although this isn’t ideal for a company committed to online freedom of expression - but that users in China are automatically directed to the China-specific site, which looks almost identical to the international Skype service.

With the new joint venture announced on Tuesday, Microsoft had a chance to change this and make local users aware of the difference.

However, there’s virtually no mention of the JV partner on the local site, which could be confusing for users thinking they're getting the non-censored version.

That said, with the NSA at large there's no guarantee that any online comms are safe from snooping.

“We hope Microsoft can publish the details of the difference, especially regarding censorship and surveillance,” non-profit body Greatfire.org told The Reg.

“Our old questions stand," the organisation added. "Will it have more or less surveillance capacity compared to the TOM version and the ‘global’ version? What happens to the text messages, along with millions of records containing personal information stored on Chinese servers now that the partnership with TOM has ended?” ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
FCC, Google cast eye over millimetre wireless
The smaller the wave, the bigger 5G's chances of success
It's even GRIMMER up North after MEGA SKY BROADBAND OUTAGE
By 'eck! Eccles cake production thrown into jeopardy
Mobile coverage on trains really is pants
You thought it was just *insert your provider here*, but now we have numbers
Don't mess with Texas ('cos it's getting Google Fiber and you're not)
A bit late, but company says 1Gbps Austin network almost ready to compete with AT&T
HBO shocks US pay TV world: We're down with OTT. Netflix says, 'Gee'
This affects every broadcaster, every cable guy
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.