updated 01:51 pm EST, Wed November 27, 2013
Skype traffic in China flows directly through Microsoft servers
Microsoft has moved to a new partner for providing Skype in China, one that could help improve privacy in the region. The messaging service will now be operated by Guangming Founder instead of TOM Online, with some reports suggesting that the move could potentially offer greater protections to users in China from monitoring by the country's government.
The changeover to Guangming Founder was announced by Microsoft two days ago, with users being migrated over as part of a beta period. Users in China on the desktop and mobile versions will be able to upgrade the app to the new beta version in the future, though it is unclear how long it will take for all users to migrate over from TOM Online's servers.
Censorship test in Skype by GreatFire
Previously, various items were censored on the service, with the encryption typically used in Skype for the rest of the world effectively being negated by the TOM servers being located in China. Research from web monitoring service GreatFire told The Next Web that the usual spying mechanisms were removed, and that all calls, chats, and account authentication is sent to Microsoft servers directly over HTTPS, and believes that the servers being used by Skype for China are in fact located outside the country.
If true, this is a major turnaround for the company, considering the level of control the Chinese government has over what appears on Internet services.