Are you sure that's Skype you're using? How to avoid TOM in China

With over 600 million registered users, Skype is the worlds most popular online voice call service, and has also become the largest international voice carrier. Many people in China use it to keep in contact with friends abroad, as well as for international business calls. Importantly, voice calls as well as chats over Skype use a highly encrypted protocol which makes it difficult or impossible for the government to monitor what we say. In China though, as often is the case, there is a twist. Most Chinese users aren't in fact using Skype, but instead a client made by TOM, Skype's local partner.


What is TOM?

To the user, TOM looks very much the real Skype client. Behind the interface though, there are crucial differences. TOM is a company operating in China under Chinese regulations, meaning that all traffic is open to control by the government. Skype has been heavily critized for this cooperation, both in the media and on it's own forum. And here's a clip from NTDTV talking about the differences (in Chinese).

How to tell the difference between Tom and the real Skype

  1. Open up Skype on your computer
  2. Click About from one of the menus
  3. Does it say TOM anywhere?

If yes, then you are not in fact using Skype but TOM, and all your chats and calls are open for control by the government. You probably didn't notice when you downloaded and installed it. This is because, if you're in China, when you try to visit [] you are redirected to And unless you're on a VPN, there's no way to avoid the redirection.

Hey, what's this redirection?

When you are redirected to a website hosted in China you should be aware that Chinese regulation applies - meaning that whatever you read and write can be censored as well as reported to the authorities. You might easily be redirected without noticing. Because of this problem, we have given a special status to websites that are redirected to China.

How to get the real Skype behind the GFW

If you're on a VPN it's easy - just download the real Skype from and you're set to go. Once you've installed it, you can disconnect the VPN, make a call and enjoy the secure encryption. What if you don't have a VPN? In fact, you can still download the real Skype - using direct dowload links. Three of these - Skype for Windows, Skype for Mac and Skype for Ubuntu are listed in the table top-right on this page. If you follow those links, you can avoid the redirection and get the real Skype.

Will Skype be blocked in China?

In December, news that China would make Skype illegal emerged, but so far that has come to nothing - Skype is still possible to use behind the Great Firewall. We'll keep monitoring the situation.



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星期四, 11月 30, 2017


苹果对中国区的审查行为敞开了大门 - 但这似乎只是冰山一角。

星期二, 5月 23, 2017

Is China establishing cyber sovereignty in the United States?

Last week Twitter came under attack from a DDoS attack orchestrated by the Chinese authorities. While such attacks are not uncommon for websites like Twitter, this one proved unusual. While the Chinese authorities use the Great Firewall to block harmful content from reaching its citizens, it now uses DDoS attacks to take down content that appears on websites beyond its borders. For the Chinese authorities, it is not simply good enough to “protect” the interests of Chinese citizens at home - in their view of cyber sovereignty, any content that might harm China’s interests must be removed, regardless of where the website is located.

And so last week the Chinese authorities determined that Twitter was the target. In particular, the authorities targeted the Twitter account for Guo Wengui (, the rebel billionaire who is slowly leaking information about corrupt Chinese government officials via his Twitter account and through his YouTube videos. Guo appeared to ramp up his whistle-blowing efforts last week and the Chinese authorities, in turn, ramped up theirs.


星期一, 12月 12, 2016

China is the obstacle to Google’s plan to end internet censorship

It’s been three years since Eric Schmidt proclaimed that Google would chart a course to ending online censorship within ten years. Now is a great time to check on Google’s progress, reassess the landscape, benchmark Google’s efforts against others who share the same goal, postulate on the China strategy and offer suggestions on how they might effectively move forward.

flowers on google china plaque

Flowers left outside Google China’s headquarters after its announcement it might leave the country in 2010. Photo: Wikicommons.

What has Google accomplished since November 2013?

The first thing they have accomplished is an entire rebranding of both Google (now Alphabet) and Google Ideas (now Jigsaw). Throughout this blog post, reference is made to both new and old company names.

Google has started to develop two main tools which they believe can help in the fight against censorship. Jigsaw’s DDoS protection service, Project Shield, is effectively preventing censorship-inspired DDoS attacks and recently helped to repel an attack on Brian Krebs’ blog. The service is similar to other anti-DDoS services developed by internet freedom champions and for-profit services like Cloudflare.

星期四, 11月 24, 2016

Facebook: Please, not like this

Facebook is considering launching a censorship tool that would enable the world’s biggest social network to “enter” the China market. Sadly, nobody will be surprised by anything that Mark Zuckerberg decides to do in order to enter the China market. With such low expectations, Facebook is poised to usurp Apple as China’s favorite foreign intelligence gathering partner. If the company launches in China using this strategy they will also successfully erase any bargaining power that other media organizations may hold with the Chinese authorities.

星期二, 7月 05, 2016 现在开始测试VPN在中国的速度和稳定性






我们开发速度测试的目的是要真实反映用户的体验。当用户在网站测速时,浏览器在后台会从10个世界上最流行的网站上下载一些资源文件。根据Alexa排名,这些网站分别是Google, Facebook, YouTube, Baidu, Amazon, Yahoo, Wikipedia, QQ, Twitter and Microsoft Live。速度的结果是简单的计算下载文件文件的大小和下载所需的时间。我们同样也会验证下载的文件是否完整。如果文件的内容是错误的或者在40秒内无法完成下载,我们会标记为失败。这个数据被我们用来生成另一个重要指标-稳定性。


我们的第二个指标 - 稳定性 - 是其他的服务通常不会测试的。一个健康的互联网连接应该达到100%的稳定性,除非有人在测试中把网线拔了。但是在中国使用翻墙工具却不是这样。任何时候连接都有可能变得不稳定或十分缓慢。根据请求的大小,最终的地点和代理的方式,一些请求有可能会失败。比较服务的稳定性要比比较速度更加重要。





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skype tom is a nightmare.. Almost impossible not to download in China and it is heavily censored and totally monitored. Okay if you're a schmuck and dont' care then go for it.. but its' way too scary to use.

I started with Skype while in the USA. However I did buy Skype credits while in china. Now all Skype go to TOM. Skype service told me to create a new account. I created a new account while I was in the US. The Problem remains. Even the Skype message board direct to Skype Tom. From Skype service “use a different computer. Not a good answer. PLEASE NOTE. Skype Tom is not the same as Skype US. The Chinese Secret police record all Skype Tom Traffic and several people have been imprisoned because of messages sent over Skype. “China jails dissident Zhu Yufu over poem sent on Skype--Reuters in, Friday 10 February 2012 07.02 EST “
It would seem that Skype USA (now Microsoft) has been unwilling to address this issue. Nowhere on the Skype Terms and conditions does it state that if you use Skype while in the PRC you will forever put through Skype Tom. Now that I am in the USA, I do not know if Skype Tom and the PRC secret police still monitor my messages. This is possibly something that the US dept of justice should look into.

It's a stupid decision for skype to choose as a partner in China. Look at their users in China, no growing up at all. Chinese ppl hates to have such a software full of advertisement and be monitored.

It's a stupid decision for skype to choose as a partner in China. Look at their users in China, no growing up at all. Chinese ppl hates to have such a software full of advertisement and be monitored.

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