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Skype bows to Chinese censors

Skype, which lets people to make phone calls over the Internet for free, has joined the ranks of other big tech companies in defending its practice of censoring speech in China, according to an article published earlier this week in the Financial Times.

In the article, Niklas Zennstrom, Skype's chief executive and founder, told the Financial Times that the company's Chinese partner Tom Online has been censoring words such as "Falun Gong", "Dalai Lama" and "Tiananmen Square " in text messages.

Zennstrom defended the practice by saying that adhering to local laws was the price of doing business in any country. He likened the censorship laws in China to any other laws that exist in Western countries, such as the United States or Germany.

The Financial Times quoted him saying, "I may like or not like the laws and regulations to operate businesses in the U.K. or Germany or the U.S., but if I do business there I choose to comply with those laws and regulations. I can try to lobby to change them, but I need to comply with them. China in that way is not different."

Skype, which is owned by eBay is one of many big technology companies bowing to the Chinese governments' censorship laws. Microsoft has taken down blogs, Google has restricted certain search terms and Yahoo has provided information the authorities have used to track down dissidents.

Politicians in Congress have lashed out at U.S. Internet companies, accusing them of collaborating with China's "regime of repression" and pledging to enact a law to make such cooperation illegal.