Skype has been outlawed in China. The popular Internet phone service is yet another Western web service that has been banned, leaving all other Internet phone calls to be made through the state-owned networks China Unicom and China Telecom.
Already popular websites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have been blocked, and Google abandoned the Chinese market last year due to intense government pressure.
By making Skype illegal, the Chinese government is effectively making services like Skype unavailable in the country. Still, the government contests that it’s helping protect users from potentially harmful content.
“By November … 350 million pieces of harmful information, including text, pictures and videos, had been deleted [from the Chinese internet],” said Wang Chen, the deputy head of the Chinese Propaganda department.
Although users in China are currently able to access Skype via the company’s partner, Tom Online, it is still unclear whether the service will soon be completely blocked from the world’s largest market for internet phone calls. However, communications experts like Professor Kan Kaili at Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications believe that’s an unlikely outcome.
“Skype is the market leader, but there is also MSN and Gmail Talk,” said Kaili. “The children of Chinese government officials, who are studying abroad, use these services to call home, so I do not think anyone is going to cut the lines. Even if they take a strict approach, such as getting local operators to block the broadband services of people who use Skype, people will still find a way around it.”