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A group of Canadian human-rights activists and computer security researchers has discovered a huge surveillance system in China that monitors and archives certain Internet text conversations that include politically charged words.
The system tracks text messages sent by customers of Tom-Skype, a joint venture between a Chinese wireless operator and eBay, the Web auctioneer that owns Skype, an online phone and text messaging service.
The Citizen Lab researchers issued a report on Wednesday, which details an analysis of data on the servers. “We were able to download millions of messages that identify users,” said Ronald J. Deibert, an associate professor of political science at the University of Toronto. “This is the worst nightmares of the conspiracy theorists around surveillance coming true. It’s ‘X-Files’ without the aliens.”