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Intersection: Sidewalks & Public Space

Chapter by Melissa Ngo

"The Myth of Security Under Camera Surveillance"


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    Update: Skype Denies Snooping Claims

    Recently, there have been reports on surveillance of user data connected with voice-over Internet Protocol service Skype. “Skype, the online phone service long favored by political dissidents, criminals and others eager to communicate beyond the reach of governments, has expanded its cooperation with law enforcement authorities to make online chats and other user information available to police, said industry and government officials familiar with the changes,” the Washington Post reported. But Skype is denying that it has made changes that allow law enforcement officials to snoop on Skype users. The New York Times reports:

    Over the last week or so, there have been reports that suggested Skype had expanded its cooperation with law enforcement agencies that are eager to gain access to conversations over the service. The reports said this resulted from the recent addition of supernodes residing in the data centers of Skype’s new corporate parent, Microsoft, which help with establishing connections between users.

    In a blog post Thursday evening, Mark Gillett, chief development and operations officer at Skype, flatly described those claims as “false.”

    “The move to supernodes was not intended to facilitate greater law enforcement access to our users’ communications,” Mr. Gillett wrote. [...]

    Supernodes, Mr. Gillett said, help with the stability of the Skype network. They act like a phone directory, helping locate Skype users on its network so calls can be established. Skype, though, has cooperated with law enforcement agencies for years when it’s legally required to do so, Mr. Gillett said.

    Skype’s response isn’t likely to completely satisfy security experts who would like to know more about Skype’s capacity to snoop on its users. In a blog post on Thursday, Christopher Soghoian, a security and privacy researcher, said that Skype was “not transparent about its surveillance capabilities.”

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