Skype kowtows to Chinese censors

Skype kowtows to Chinese censors

'Everyone else is doing it,' says VoIP firm's chief exec

Skype has joined other technology firms in kowtowing to Chinese censors after Niklas Zennström, the VoIP firm's chief executive, admitted to censoring messages on its Chinese service.

Skype runs a joint venture in China called Tom Online. In an interview with the Financial Times Zennström said that Skype would be censoring its users, saying that everyone else is doing it anyway.

The automatic filters remove references like 'Falun Gong' and 'Dalai Lama'.

"Tom Online has implemented a text filter, which is what everyone else in that market is doing," said Zennström.

"Those are the regulations. I may like or not like the laws and regulations to operate businesses in the UK or Germany or the US, but if I do business there I choose to comply with those laws and regulations."

Skype users are currently limited to communicating via text message, which is where the censorship takes place. The company is, however, in talks with the Chinese authorities about allowing IP telephony.

Yahoo, Microsoft and Google have all started censoring their users on behalf of the Chinese government, moves that have meant jail terms of up to 10 years for at least three Chinese nationals.