Cracking Chinese Skype's Surveillance Code

Friday, March 22, 2013


We have known for years that certain words and phrases can get Chinese internet users flagged for surveillance by the Chinese government. Now a computer science graduate student at the University of New Mexico has compiled an extensive list of the sometimes surprising words and phrases that put Chinese internet censors on alert. Bob talks to Jeffrey Knockel about how he cracked the code of the Chinese version of Skype to compile the list.


Jeffrey Knockel

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield

Comments [2]

This type of censorship not only exists in foreign lands, but also on our own U.S. soil.
I am aware of this phenomena from personal experience:

Once, my Russian-speaking mother made an online purchase for an airplane ticket, and a few minutes later, she had sent an e-mail to her daughters to inform them of her visit. Because she was using an American keyboard her e-mail was written phonetically in Russian, using Latin alphabet.

Whilst walking through security gates at the airport, she was stopped and taken for investigation.
According to security personell's reasoning, she had somehow made a terrorist move by sending an 'encrypted message' immediately after booking her flight.

Now, I'd like to know: how exactly does American government receive access to our personal communication? Do we not own rights to our own words?

You don't have to be Chinese to become a victim of surveillance.

Mar. 24 2013 05:42 PM
Salvatore Principato from New York City

How very provincial.
Really I am not as interested
in what the Chinese censors are doing
as I am about what words or phrases
set off the U.S. security apparatus
when I'm communicating with friends overseas.
Not that's a story worth telling Bob Garfield!

Mar. 24 2013 02:23 PM

Leave a Comment

Register for your own account so you can vote on comments, save your favorites, and more. Learn more.
Please stay on topic, be civil, and be brief.
Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. Names are displayed with all comments. We reserve the right to edit any comments posted on this site. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting. By leaving a comment, you agree to New York Public Radio's Privacy Policy and Terms Of Use.