Search


  • Categories


  • Archives

    « Home

    Washington Post: Skype makes chats and user data more available to police

    The Washington Post 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.

    Surveillance of the audio and video feeds remains impractical — even when courts issue warrants, say industry officials with direct knowledge of the matter. But that barrier could eventually vanish as Skype becomes one of the world’s most popular forms of telecommunication.

    The changes to online chats, which are written messages conveyed almost instantaneously between users, result in part from technical upgrades to Skype that were instituted to address outages and other stability issues since Microsoft bought the company last year. Officials of the United States and other countries have long pushed to expand their access to newer forms of communications to resolve an issue that the FBI calls the “going dark” problem. […]

    The changes, which give the authorities access to addresses and credit card numbers, have drawn quiet applause in law enforcement circles but hostility from many activists and analysts.

    Authorities had for years complained that Skype’s encryption and other features made tracking drug lords, pedophiles and terrorists more difficult. Jihadis recommended the service on online forums. Police listening to traditional wiretaps occasionally would hear wary suspects say to one another, “Hey, let’s talk on Skype.”

    Hacker groups and privacy experts have been speculating for months that Skype had changed its architecture to make it easier for governments to monitor, and many blamed Microsoft, which has an elaborate operation for complying with legal government requests in countries around the world.

    “The issue is, to what extent are our communications being purpose-built to make surveillance easy?” said Lauren Weinstein, co-founder of People for Internet Responsibility, a digital privacy group. “When you make it easy to do, law enforcement is going to want to use it more and more. If you build it, they will come.’’

    Skype was slow to clarify the situation, issuing a statement recently that said, “As was true before the Microsoft acquisition, Skype cooperates with law enforcement agencies as is legally required and technically feasible.”

    But changes allowing police surveillance of online chats had been made since late last year, a knowledgeable industry official said Wednesday.

    Read the full story to learn more, including details of Skype’s previous resistance to government surveillance.

    One Response to “Washington Post: Skype makes chats and user data more available to police”

    1. Tweets that mention » Washington Post: Skype makes chats and user data more available to police Says:

      […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by nymphosec, privacyfocused, normative, privprof, beccanalia, johndburger, postlibertarian, pgeddington, mike_eh_52, and stoptwiminals. stoptwiminals said: […]

    Leave a Reply