New Zealanders will be disturbed to learn that China has been conducting a massive spying operation on the online phone service Skype, and that one of the trigger phrases is ‘milk powder’, Green Party Human Rights Spokesperson Keith Locke says.
“Our Government should make an official complaint about China’s surveillance of Skype communications, which may include business communications from New Zealand firms such as Fonterra, as well as personal conversations,” Mr Locke says.
A Canadian computer security group, Citizen Lab, has discovered a huge Chinese surveillance system censoring and archiving messages with key words like ‘Taiwan independence’, ‘Falun Gong’ and ‘milk powder’.
“Many New Zealand Chinese will be disturbed to learn about the monitoring of the ‘skyping’ to family back home. Many conversations and texts would have referred to the milk powder scandal – and details of all of those communications are now recorded in the million plus Tom-Skype surveillance archive,” Mr Locke says.
“Some family members could get a black security mark if they made candid comments on Skype about democracy, Tibetan rights or the SanLu-Fonterra scandal.
“Now that New Zealand has a free trade and investment agreement with China, we should use what leverage we have to ensure the privacy of business communications.
“Privacy in China is a one-way street. In China, secrecy and state control was used to cover up the milk powder scandal, and at the same time the efforts to bring it to light was being secretly monitored”.