Skype Bows To China’s Whim, Censors Users To Prevent Being Banned
Internet Censorship has been in the news over the last few weeks, with SOPA, PIPAand Twitter’s new feature, and sticking to that theme, it seems that Web calling firm Skype has joined the rank and file of those censoring users in China.
CNET cites a report from the Financial Times, in which it is revealed that, through its Chinese partner Tom Online, the company has been removing sensitive words used by customers on its text and chat service in the country. The terms include but are not limited to: “Dalai Lama”, “Tiananmen Square” and ”Falun Gong”.
Defending the move, Skype CEO and founder Niklas Zennstrom told the FT that the company has no choice but to take the action if it is to be available to China’s 1.3 billion population:
I may like or not like the laws and regulations to operate businesses in the UK or Germany or the U.S., but if I do business there I choose to comply with those laws and regulations. I can try to lobby to change them, but I need to comply with them. China in that way is not different.
Rumours that TOM-Skype would be outlawed in China, alongside over VoIP providers, surfaced in late 2010 but it later emerged that the company, which is now owned by Microsoft, was not the prime target and VoIP providers have continue on in the country regardless.
Skype’s tolerant approach differs from a number of rivals, including Google — which recently confirmed that it remains focused on China — although given the potential that the country has, the Skype route is one that many other firms would well take were they able to.
Twitter and Facebook are two US service that are blocked and are continually linked with a move into China. While Mark Zuckerberg is insistent that there are “no plans” for China, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey put in a recent visit to the country and, with its new censorship feature in place, the company is better equipped to become available in the country, which has thus far frustrated it.
Update: The clarify, the censorship doesn’t apply to users connecting to Skype using a VPN, who are able to access a range of service that are blocked in the country.
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