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Skype Responds to Online Wiretapping Accusations


Earlier this week, TheBlaze reported that some were accusing Skype of making a recent change to technologies that could have created a backdoor to allow for authorities to listen in to online conversations. At the time, Skype denied this and has more recently come out with a firmer statement on security and protection of user privacy.

Mark Gillett, Skype's chief development and operations officer, wrote on the company's blog that first and foremost, Skype did not change the service's architecture as a way to comply with requests from law enforcement. Reiterating what the company had said before about the changes, Gillett said they were to "provide the best possible product to our users" by improving reliability and speed.

He also said that policies were not changed to accommodate law enforcement requests either. Here's what Skype's current privacy policy says with regard to authorities seeking user information:

Skype, Skype's local partner, or the operator or company facilitating your communication may provide personal data, communications content and/or traffic data to an appropriate judicial, law enforcement or government authority lawfully requesting such information. Skype will provide all reasonable assistance and information to fulfil this request and you hereby consent to such disclosure.

Gillett says that information, including instant messages, are only provided when "legally required and technically feasible."

Gillett also writes that the technology changes on the voice over IP service do not allow for recording or monitoring.

SlashGear gives this brief synopsis and analysis of Gillett's blog post:

In short, Skype is doing just what the most recent suggestions indicated the company was – making chat conversations available when correctly requested from law enforcement, as long as those conversations took place within the last 30 days – but nothing more. Gillett’s comments are carefully phrased, of course, to take the emphasis off of Skype doing anything specifically and primarily in the name of law enforcement; even the rumors earlier this week suggested that the supernodes moving in-house to Microsoft’s servers had merely had the side-effect of making monitoring of IM chats more straightforward.

Read more details about Gillett's clarifications and about the architecture updates Skype made here.

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