Microsoft is believed to have handed over key elements of their Skype source code to the Chinese Government according to both Microsoft and Chinese Government sources.
ChannelNews was told of the exchange recently by senior Chinese
contacts and after several weeks of investigating the issue a senior Microsoft
executive based in Asia, who works with Microsoft’s Skype Division,
confirmed that the software giant had handed over “selected” Skype source code to Chinese officials.
The executive said that the Chinese Government was now able
to track conversations between individuals on the Skype network.
ChannelNews became aware several weeks ago that Skype
executives had recently held discussions with the Indian Government over the
use of Skype by terrorists.
Intelligence sources in India had become concerned that
terrorists were using the Skype network to communicate. Their concerns were
first raised following the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack that lasted four days
resulting in the death of 164 people. Investigations after the attack revealed
that the terrorists had used Skype to communicate with other terrorists
masterminding the operation in Pakistan.
Indian security forces surrounding the Hotel where the
terrorist attack took place were able to monitor the terrorists’ outgoing calls
by intercepting their mobile phone signals.
At the time Indian
police officials said that the
Lashkar-e-Taiba, militant group which was based in Pakistan, it was later
revealed that the terrorists were using Skype a Voice over Internet Protocol
(VoIP) phone service to communicate.
The Microsoft official who confirmed that Microsoft was in
discussions with the Indian Government over the use of Skype in India said that
both the Indian Government and the Chinese Government had demanded access to
Skype so that they could track individuals on the Skype network.
“Skype source code has been supplied to the Chinese
Government we are still discussing issues with the Indian Government” the
Microsoft official said.
Back in August 2013 a post on the GreatFire.org site said
its data analysis revealed Microsoft had removed “all censorship
restrictions” previously enabled on Skype in China.
Then in September Microsoft announced that they had entered
into a joint venture with Hong Kong’s TOM Group after eight years and secured a
new partner in China, Guangming Founder (GMF).
At the time GreatFire.org reported: “All user calls,
chats, and login information are encrypted and communicated directly to
Microsoft via HTTPS. This is a complete about-face for Microsoft from the
TOM-Skype era, when all information was processed by TOM and stored by TOM on
servers located in China, with absolutely no privacy controls in place.”
GreatFire.org analyses data about China’s Great Firewall,
the government’s nationwide Web censorship infrastructure, and publishes
information about blocked websites as well as searches.
Currently Microsoft is in heavy discussions with the Chinese
Government after Chinese officials gave Microsoft 20 days to explain what they
called compatibility and bundling issues with its software.
The State Administration for Industry and Commerce required
the U.S. Company to explain “problems like incompatibility and other
issues caused by a lack of released information about its Windows and Office
software,” according to a statement on the agency’s website.