Watch your chat!

The now-famous Chinese Internet police appears to have extended its range of surveillance. According to a report from the Information Warfare Monitor, full text chat messages of TOM-Skype users, along with Skype users who have communicated with TOM-Skype users, are regularly scanned for sensitive keywords in China.

One question raised is to what extent do TOM Online and Skype cooperate with the Chinese government in monitoring the communications. It is not the first time that a company operating in China is found collaborating with the government. Yahoo, Google, and others all had to make the choice between privacy and “respecting local legislation”.

In a country where Internet penetration remains relatively low (at least for the time being) blogs and chats may be only marginal despite a growth in absolute numbers. But what about mobile phones and text messages? With more than 600 million users and 429 billion messages sent last year must be logged somewhere too.