Oct 08 2008

Skype and Information Privacy

Category: Information PrivacyDISC @ 1:00 am

According to an SF chronicle article by Peter Svensson (Oct 3, 2008, pg. c4) “A Canadian researcher (Nart Villeneuve) has discovered that the Chinese version of eBay Inc.’s Skype communication software snoops on text chats that contain keywords like “democracy”. “

In other words, the Chinese version of Skype was used for surveillance of text messages between two users. Researcher Nart Villeneuve not only found that the application was filtering specific words but that it was also passing the messages caught by the filters to other servers. Because of poor security on those servers, Nart was able to recover more than a million messages from those servers.

Well, based on Skype’s previous claim that messages between two systems are encrypted and only public keys on those systems can decrypt those messages, this is questionable. Also, this revelation does not agree with Skype’s claim that software discards the filtered messages.

Now the question arises that how do we know that our text messages on Skype are not being tapped in the United States?

Are privacy and security laws only applicable to consumers but not the corporations? If that’s true then our state of security and privacy is in pretty dire shape. It seems like consumers’ information is for sale to the higher bidder without our consent or appropriate compensation.

Without any credible evidence, our Govt. should not be able to perform wholesale surveillance (profiling) for the sake of security. We are building a society of fear where everybody is under surveillance and is a suspect until proven innocent, which sounds like we are living in a police state.

Laws of secrecy and unnecessary surveillance will ultimately diminish the fundamentals of democracy. To lift the cloud of secrecy behind these sorts of initiatives the public needs to put pressure on their public representatives to dig out the truth. Otherwise the mound of voluminous data from surveillance can be used to harass innocent people and be used as a tool to distract from reality.

We cannot expect our information to be secure unless we trust our Govt. to protect our privacy and corporations to secure our information.

Skype’s China Spying Uncovered

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Tags: compensation, credible evidence, democracy, dire shape, encrypted, filtering, poor security, reality, snoops, surveillance, voluminous