[iDC] Massive Surveillance on Skype's China platform

Sarah Lewison socialsculpture at yahoo.com
Sat Oct 4 02:40:47 UTC 2008

Hi Brad (and others): 
I'm in China. Wanted to let you know that I am able to connect with your Journal of American Thought Crime. It appears these things fluctuate; sometimes it seems like there are holds placed on transmissions until *somebody* sifts through the content, and then the pipes open up again.  
i know this sounds more superstitious than scientific but I've been irregularly compiling a list of what one can get into or not. 
but like i said it fluctuates; wasn't able to access http://dncdisruption08.org/ during the last week of August but can get in now. Wordpress.com blogs are all completely inaccessible. 

As far as how people in everyday life manage to "think different" in such a paternalistic state, of course it depends on your position, how far your voice will travel anyway. Deputy Minister of the Environment Pan Yue has published his ideas about China's environmental catastrophe widely and holds a secure party position, yet mid-level officials in China's regional EPA offices would be more cautious about circulating such notions (even if they agree-- they are more politically vulnerable).  The contradiction between surface appearance and the reality behind the back door is well known in Chinese society and predates the Party. (cf sociologist FEi Xioatong's "From the Soil"). 

Otherwise, to say the obvious, the education system (especially) and general culture preemptively mitigates against dissenting ideas... why bother casting confusion; all want a harmonious society! A little sarcasm here-- like in Orwell there is a presumption the state is generating what is best for the people, but still trying to understand better myself.. (farmers tell us the pesticides they  use must be safe because they are distributed and approved by the government) As we know from recent events in the dairy barn, the state also actively suppresses info the people really need..


it's hard to believe that system was left open for this sort of data  
gathering. but that said -- and i don't think this is JUST paranoia --  
i think we have to assume that this and worse is what all of our  
communications are subject to.

i have been lately trying to think about the effects of a culture of  
unregulated surveillance on thought and discourse: how are  
conversations -- how is even thought distorted by an awareness of a  
kind of constant evil witness? is it possible to ignore that? to just  
go on as before?

probably the best exploration of this theme that i know of is orwell's  
1984. i just reread it and found it amazingly prescient. inspired by  
it, i created "the journal of american thought crime" <http://www.thoughtcrime.doesntexist.org/ 
>, a literary journal in the form of an encrypted mailing list. (and  
i'm told it can't be accessed in China.)

maybe it IS paranoia ... but there is a motivation for creating an  
atmosphere that is pervaded by paranoia, just as there is a motivation  
for the manufacture of fear. there is a utility in crisis that the  
powerful take full advantage of (as m. klien writes). it seems worth  
exploring both sides of this equation we know what they get, but what  
happens to us?

Brad Borevitz
brad at onetwothree.net

My PGP key is available from the keyserver: hkp://subkeys.pgp.net.
My key ID: 0xABFE6939. My key fingerprint: A65A 359C 7896 74D3 1820   
373F 6AD3 21BE ABFE 6939

On Oct 1, 2008, at 5:29 PM, Ronald Deibert wrote:

> Dear Friends and Colleagues
> I am writing to announce the release of the first Information  
> Warfare Monitor/ONI Asia major investigative report, Breaching  
> Trust: An analysis of surveillance and security practices on China’s  
> TOM-Skype platform, written by Nart Villeneuve, Psiphon Fellow, the  
> Citizen Lab, at the Munk Centre for International Studies, the  
> University of Toronto.
> The full report can be downloaded here:
> http://www.infowar-monitor.net/breachingtrust/

Sarah Lewison 
in residence: Lijiang Studio
Jixiang First Commune, Hainan Village, Lashihai
Jade Dragon County
Lijiang, Yunnan, PRC 647107

(86) 13 888 558345

Assistant Professor
Dept of Radio-TV at CMCMA
1048 Communications Bldg, Mailcode 6609 
1100 Lincoln Drive 
Carbondale, IL 62901 



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