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Skype responds to questions raised about security, denies ulterior motives

Skype responds to security concerns

A few days ago, questions were raised over Skype's security in that Microsoft is reconfiguring the Skype network to allow Law Enforcement Agencies can have access to intercept calls. Mark Gillett, Skype's Chief Development and Operations Officer, responded to these concerns today.

With regards to the claims Skype has made changes in its architecture to provide Law Enforcement Agencies have greater access to Skype communications, Gillett says that this is false:

"The move was made in order to improve the Skype experience, primarily to improve the reliability of the platform and to increase the speed with which we can react to problems. The move also provides us with the ability to quickly introduce cool new features that allow for a fuller, richer communications experience in the future."

Gillett continues to explain that the move to mega-supernodes was not intended to facilitate greater law enforcement access to Skype user's communications:

"Skype's architecture decisions are based on our desire to provide the best possible product to our users."

"While we are focused on building the best possible products and experiences for our users, we also fundamentally believe that making a great product experience also means we must act responsibly and make it safe for everyone to use."

Law Enforcement Agencies must follow appropriate procedures (e.g. court issued subpoena) to access records and Skype will respond to such requests where legally required (and technically feasible). Skype's Privacy Policy echoes Gillett's position by stating,

"Skype may disclose personal information to respond to legal requirements, exercise our legal rights or defend against legal claims, to protect Skype’s interests, fight against fraud and to enforce our policies or to protect anyone's rights, property, or safety."

With regards to the architecture changes making it easier for Skype to record and monitor your conversations, Gillett assures us that this too is false.  Skype, as some may know, does collect information from users but, according to Gillett, audio and video captures from calls do not take place. Instant messaging is captured and stored for thirty days to enable users to retrieve messages history.

To repeat Dan's bottom line from a few days ago, if you're a political dissident or concerned about privacy Skype might not be for you.  For all the fine print on Skype's Privacy Policy and what content they do capture, just follow this link.

Source: Skype's Big Blog

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Reader comments

Skype responds to questions raised about security, denies ulterior motives

13 Comments

-1 it's a matter of privacy. There are laws against recording audio conversations without consent. Why is this any different?

I believe they're saying it's not different. Law enforcement must follow procedure and get a subpoena. What's wrong with that? I personally want some protection from the whack jobs out there.

Online privacy is a really kind of myth. If the government provides adaquete documents, they can get your online records from whatever service provider/website they need. If it is faster due to being a serious need (aka a murder investigation or something), they'll even pull  your entire computer/backup storage, etc. If you really think about this, it isn't THAT much different from pre-internet days when they would come to your house (instead of a third-party) and take any and all documents that they needed for an investigation.
Here's the question you have to ask yourself- are you doing things worth investigating? If not, there are way more fish (and much larger) to fry. Do you think the person that downloaded a couple songs from Napster back in the day even got a once over? ...do you think the cops pull someone over on the interstate going 5 over? (I realize this also depends on if you live in the middle of no where, but let's say you live in a suburban/urban area) I can tell you where I live, if you're not doing 5 over during my morning commute, you'll be a traffic hazard, 10 over if you want to be anywhere except for the right lane. I actually see cops doing 80 in a 70 and keeping up with traffic.

The US is the worst police-surveillance state that justifies its diabolical spying on people in the name of security and Americans accept it. Lame!

I wouldn't say we're the worst and these changes to Skype would affect eveyrone/every country. 

Either way, I can name a few countries that have worse freedoms than the US but it's kind of beside the point.

Nope the UK is way up there, at least the other countries you know what to expect, read up on the tpp treaty that America is getting NZ and other countries to sign up for and tell me what's the difference ?

My goodness people sure are paranoid. For starters, they've got a policy, they've stated the policy, and I generally accept that they will honor the policy. The policy itself is very reasonable. Are they watching? No. If they're properly subpoenaed by an agency, they'll work with them "within the constraints of the law and technical feasibility." Beyond that, why the hell do any of us think our lives are anything worth being interested in? As a system administrator, sure, I *can* monitor all of my users, but a) I don't have the time, b) I don't have the interest, because most people are boring.

Skype on my nokia lumia 900 is very safe - it crashes during app load, so there's no risk of any information being sent!
According to Nokia, the lumia 900 was certified to run skype. Skype support says it is not a supported phone - 800 and 710 are ok though.
I think Microsoft, owning skype, needs to get nokia and skype's techs inside a room, lock them in and don't let them come out till they get their act together.