Slate reports on privacy questions surrounding calls on voice-over Internet Protocol service Skype:
New surveillance laws being proposed in countries from theÂ United StatesÂ toÂ AustraliaÂ would force makers of online chat software to build in backdoors for wiretapping. For years, the popular video chat service Skype has resisted taking part in online surveillanceâ€”but that may have changed. And if it has, Skypeâ€™s not telling.
Historically, Skype has been a major barrier to law enforcement agencies. Using strong encryption and complex peer-to-peer network connections, Skype was considered by most to be virtually impossible to intercept. Police forces in GermanyÂ complainedÂ in 2007 that they couldnâ€™t spy on Skype calls and evenÂ hired a companyÂ to develop covert Trojans to record suspectsâ€™ chats. At around the same time, Skype happily wentÂ on recordÂ saying that it could not conduct wiretaps because of its â€œpeer-to-peer architecture and encryption techniques.â€
Recently, however, hackersÂ allegedÂ that Skype made a change to its architecture this spring that could possibly make it easier to enable â€œlawful interceptionâ€ of calls. Skype rejected the charge in a comment issued to the websiteÂ Extremetech, saying the restructure was an upgrade and had nothing to do with surveillance. But when I repeatedly questioned the company on Wednesday whether it could currently facilitate wiretap requests, a clear answer was not forthcoming. Citing â€œcompany policy,â€ Skype PR man Chaim Haas wouldnâ€™t confirm or deny, telling me only that the chat service â€œco-operates with law enforcement agencies as much as is legally and technically possible.â€
Read the full article to learn what the author believes is a reason for a possible change in Skype.