08.01.12

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Canonical Promotes Microsoft Spyware

Posted in Microsoft, Ubuntu at 1:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Headphones

Summary: Canonical calls Skype a “favourite app” and adds it to the Ubuntu software center

THE FRONT PAGE of ubuntu.com is still offering an endorsement for Skype, despite all the controversy and recent onfirmation that Skype is a spy. Canonical even puts it in the software center as though it is Free software, according to this new report. First there was the UEFI scandal and now this?

The Washington Post confirmed that Skype is spying, so it is no longer an unknown as some publications put it. To quote:

Over the past few weeks, the technical blogosphere, and most recently, the mainstread media have tried to answer the question: What kind of assistance can Skype provide to law enforcement agencies?

Most of the stories have been filled with speculation, sometimes informed, but mostly not. In an attempt to paint as clear a picture as possible, I want to explain what we do and don’t know about Skype and surveillance.

[...]

However, a quick Google search for “Skype law enforcement handbook” quickly turns up an official looking document on the whistleblower website cryptome.org, dated October 2007, which makes it clear that Skype has long been providing the assistance that the Post claims is new.

From Skype’s 2007 law enforcement handbook:

In response to a subpoena or other court order, Skype will provide:
• Registration information provided at time of account registration
• E-mail address
• IP address at the time of registration
• Financial transactions conducted with Skype in the past year, although details of the credit cards used are stored only by the billing provider used (for instance, Bibit, RBS or PayPal)
• Destination telephone numbers for any calls placed to the public switched telephone network (PSTN)
• All service and account information, including any billing address(es) provided, IP address (at each transaction), and complete transactional information

Knowing that Skype is spyware, will Canonical remove it from the software center and its main homepage? Those who really want it installed will find a way; it’s opportunistic for Canonical to use proprietary software to lure in users. This is becoming a bit of a farce and a PR disaster for Ubuntu.

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4 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    August 1, 2012 at 5:33 am

    Gravatar

    Canonical should not forget its open source / free software roots and should be pushing SIP wherever possible. If they are getting money for pushing Skype, then fine, but that should be disclosed if it is the case.

    There are a lot of fine SIP clients to choose from. The Tor Project developer Jacob Appelbaum is currently recommending Jitsi. However, any given platform has a good handful of top quality SIP clients to choose from.

    SIP is an open standard so it helps break up or prevent any monopoly.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    I’ve used Jitsi for over a year; the hard part is finding people who are online on SIP.

  2. mcinsand said,

    August 1, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Gravatar

    What are the drawbacks to Google+Hangouts? I tried gmail’s video chat a couple of years ago, but Skype was better for video quality. However, although I wasn’t wild about using the non-free Skype then, Skype became a non-option with MS purchasing it. Tonight, I’ll try installing Jitsi and see how it works with my webcam.

    Also, for some good news, have you seen having a bit more trouble? ‘Downward spiral’ is not too far from ‘death spiral.’ Although I would give Ballmer the dubious credit, I disagree with the premise that he had unique decisions to drive MS down; all he did was to keep business as usual.

    mcinsand Reply:

    Well that was weird. I am reasonably sure that I had ‘microsoft’ before the link reference.

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