China May Ban Skype In Misguided Protectionist Effort

from the this-will-backfire dept

Back in 2008, we wondered how long it would be until the Chinese government looked to crack down on VoIP providers like Skype, as it was becoming clear that a larger and larger number of folks in China were starting to use Skype for international calls (especially to Taiwan). It appears that may be happening, as the Chinese government has made it clear that it believes most VoIP networks are illegal, and it plans to crack down on them. The reason for such a ban is generally as a protectionist move, helping state sponsored telcos — who return the favor by letting the government spy on calls (something Skype does not allow). Of course, as we’ve seen in other countries that have implemented Skype bans, including Bangladesh, Belarus, Jordan and Namibia, the end result of these kinds of bans can be supremely counterproductive for the local economy. It’s not hard to realize why: cheap phone calls enable all sorts of other businesses to do things cheaper and open up new possibilities, like overseas call centers. Expensive phone calls make business more expensive and difficult. So, in protecting the local state-supported telcos, these efforts tend to do a lot more harm than good.

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Companies: skype

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Comments on “China May Ban Skype In Misguided Protectionist Effort”

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Anonymous Coward says:


I was thinking the same thing, it is not about telco protectionism is about political protectionism.

They don’t want to loose control of the communications infra-structure to an more open solution because it becomes hard for them to control things, they probably would have no problem with homegrown solutions that they can control and spy on it.

Anonymous Coward says:


Learn what exactly?

That the state doesn’t want to loose control of their communications spying capabilities?

They are threatning Skype but the others Chinese VoIP solutions are not named why?

Did you see they talk about the QQLive that offers the same things Skype does? Although technically it is a P2P program used for video streaming(TV, movies, music), it has also communications capabilities that are monitored by the Chinese government.

Anonymous Coward says:


One of the interesting features of a hybrid communist / capitalist society is that choices can be made that don’t please the free market people very much, but have better returns over time for the country as a whole. Rather than just taking the short term “cheapest” model, they look at the overall implications for the market place and end users and go from there.

Yes, there are security issues, and certainly the government benefits from having solid access to the communications networks. I suspect that any “made in china” solution for VoIP will include security provisions to keep it in line with existing services.

At the end of the day, the two chinese telecom companies either employ or provide work for millions of chinese people. It is incredibly unlikely the government would want to trade that out.

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