×

China Arrests Former Regulator, Bans Skype in Expanded Control of Internet

China has further extended its control of the Internet within its borders.

Chinese and Hong Kong media report that Lu Wei, former head of the Cyberspace Administration of China, was detained by security forces in recent days. It has also emerged that Skype, the Microsoft-owned messaging and calling service, has become unavailable in China.

Lu, head of the CAC from 2013 to 2016, was the ultimate authority who decided whether foreign tech companies could operate in China. He was lobbied by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Apple’s Tim Cook. Amazon and Facebook remain banned from China.

Lu lost his job last year but kept his position as deputy director of the Communist Party’s Propaganda Department until this month. He was succeeded at the CAC by Xu Lin, a member of the party’s powerful Central Committee.

In a statement, the party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said Lu was being “questioned for suspected serious violations of party discipline.” That description is usually code for corruption. The commission did not elaborate on Lu’s alleged misdeeds.

Skype was removed from Apple’s app store in China and from the download sites operated by Tencent and Qihoo in recent days. Disruption to Skype began in October.

“We have been notified by the Ministry of Public Security that a number of voice-over-Internet-protocol apps do not comply with local law. Therefore these apps have been removed from the app store in China,” an Apple spokeswoman told the Reuters news agency.

Chinese authorities have spent much of the past year expanding government control over the Internet. Western tech services including Facebook, Twitter, and Google have long been excluded. This year the government has ordered the removal of downloads for virtual private networks and intervened to disrupt the operation of VPNs. In recent weeks it has used technological means to block WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging services that uses encryption technology to keep content private.

The Chinese government, which introduced new cyberspace laws this summer, requires tech companies to give it access to their servers and keep data in China. It recently imposed maximum fines on Chinese companies Baidu, Tencent and Weibo for not doing enough to censor user-generated content posted on their sites.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • fundo logo

    Google‘s Area 120 Is Testing Fundo, a Crowdfunding Service for Creators (EXCLUSIVE)

    Google’s skunkworks lab Area 120 has been quietly testing an events-centric crowdfunding service for YouTubers, Variety has learned. Called Fundo, the service allows creators to invite their fans to virtual meet & greet sessions and other paid online events. A Google spokesperson confirmed the testing in a statement provided to Variety: “One of the many [...]

  • Telling Lies - Logan Marshall-Green

    Sam Barlow's 'Telling Lies' Government-Surveillance Thriller Game Sets Release Date

    After more than two years in the works, “Telling Lies” — the investigative thriller from acclaimed game creator Sam Barlow — is ready to take the stage. The game, produced with and released by Annapurna Interactive, will be available next Friday, Aug. 23, via Steam and Apple’s Mac and iOS app stores. “Telling Lies” will [...]

  • YouTube logo

    YouTube Will Stop Letting Copyright Holders Seize Revenue via Manual Claims on Very Short Music Clips

    YouTube is pushing back against overzealous copyright policing by music companies. Starting in mid-September, the video giant will forbid copyright holders from making manual claims to commandeer revenue generated by YouTube videos that include very short music clips (e.g., five seconds of a song) or “unintentional” music (like music from passing cars). “One concerning trend [...]

  • Chelsea Handler memoir book buy online

    Chelsea Handler Bonds With Alexa in iHeartRadio Smart Speaker Promo

    iHeartRadio has teamed up with Amazon to promote Chelsea Handler’s podcast “Life Will Be The Death Of Me.” Beginning this Thursday, users of Amazon’s Echo smart speaker and other devices with Alexa built-in can opt to get their mornings started with Handler cracking jokes and exchanging banter with the smart assistant. Users simply have to [...]

  • David Messinger, Activision Blizzard

    Activision Blizzard Hires CAA Veteran David Messinger as CMO

    Activision Blizzard tapped David Messinger, a former 15-plus-year veteran of CAA, as its first corporate-wide chief marketing officer. Messinger, based in Santa Monica, reports to Coddy Johnson, Activision Blizzard’s president and COO. It’s the first time the video-game company has appointed a CMO who will oversee the global marketing operations across all of Activision Blizzard [...]

  • Ashley Flowers - Crime Junkie

    'Crime Junkie' Podcast Host Ashley Flowers Responds to Plagiarism Allegations

    Ashley Flowers, creator and host of “Crime Junkie” — currently the No. 1 true-crime podcast — has been accused of using material in her show from multiple sources without credit. In a statement sent to Variety, Flowers said in part, “we recently made the decision to pull down several episodes from our main feed when their [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content