EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

08.02.12

Microsoft Skype Admits Its Servers Store Private Messages and Support Surveillance

Posted in Microsoft at 11:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sign

Summary: Microsoft helps confirm what publications have been claiming about Skype

FIRST came speculations, then came supporting source code, then came proof from news sites, and now comes confirmation from Microsoft itself.

“Microsoft first denied it, then people became sceptical (Microsoft has a history of lying)”One Linux/BSD site called it “one more reason not to use Skype”. To quote: “Even though Skype for Linux is unlike most applications available on any Linux installation, that is, it is a proprietary application, it has long been a popular chat and VoIP application for many users, not for free software purists, but for those that do not care about the core philosophies of free software.

“If you belong to that group, that is, if any of the core principles of free software does not come into play in your decision to use or not use a software, the latest news about Skype should make you think twice about using it.

“In a recent article published in the The Washington Post, Craig Timberg and Ellen Nakashima reports that “Skype … has expanded its cooperation with law enforcement authorities to make online chats and other user information available to police…””

We wrote about it repeatedly and summarised the issues. Microsoft first denied it, then people became sceptical (Microsoft has a history of lying):

The accusation that started all of this was the changes to Skype’s architecture. Gillett says that Skype made the changes “to provide the best possible product to our users.” He says that the company was already in the process of moving supernodes to the cloud long before they were acquired by Microsoft.

As for their cooperation with law enforcement, Gillett claims that their policy has not changed since 2005. They will accomodate law enforcement when it “follows appropriate procedures” and they “respond where legally required and technically feasible.”

The move to in-house hosting does not give Skype the ability to monitor or record your conversations. The in-house servers were only added help establish calls. The data that’s transferred during calls (audio and video) are only passed between the two Skype clients and never through their servers.

There are 3 admissions there. The first is that more inter-communication is being moved to Microsoft servers, just after Microsoft took over (it doesn’t matter when it was first planned). Microsoft also admits that it is giving authorities access to Skype communications. Thirdly, here is the key part:

The company addressed the claims from the Washington Post that said Skype was actively monitoring instant messages on Skype. Gillett does say that messages are stored on their servers temporarily if the message can’t get through to another user. The key word is temporarily as they are never hosted on their servers for that long. They will of course respond to legitimate law enforcement requests whenever possible in regards to instant messages.

They basically confirm that the reports are true and in all three cases (3 confirmations of speculations) they add some excuse to distract from the admission. Here is the post from Microsoft for those who want to swallow all the spin. Tim, my co-host, writes that:

If we also look towards the allegation of snooping – which has hit the mainstream press, we have to consider that if it is true, then its hardly a secret and people are going into Skype with full knowledge of the allegations towards it. If they choose to accept that caveat in return for speaking with their contacts, then fine, there is no issue – as long as they are aware of the implications of using.

For those who at least wish to know the facts about Skype privacy, all of this is relevant.

VoIP is gaining traction and since code is law, as Larry Lessig put it, we must ensure that some privacy in phone conversation is preserved. Cellular networks already compromised some of this privacy.

When it comes to E-mail, the NSA is getting copies of everything and encryption of E-mail is the exception rather than the norm. Using Hotmail Microsoft has been spying on people for advertisers, profiling users and non-users (who write to Hotmail users) by their identities. Hotmail is being killed now (as a brand) to further promote Skype surveillance:

Microsoft is overhauling its free webmail service, dropping the Hotmail brand it has used since acquiring the product in 1998, and adopting the name Outlook.com.

The revamped service will help sort messages as they arrive and allow users to make internet calls on Skype.

So as we noted before, Microsoft is to store copies of people's written communications and also phonecalls. Do you trust Microsoft?

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

2 Comments

  1. mcinsand said,

    August 2, 2012 at 11:51 am

    Gravatar

    Thanks for pointing out Jitsi! No more skype on my PC!

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    When I reviewed many SIP apps I found the pre 1.0 Jitsi release (called SIP Communicator at the time) a little buggy.

What Else is New


  1. Only Months After Microsoft's Ramji Enters the Linux Foundation Microsoft Gradually Joins Him

    Sam Ramji is doing to Linux what Stephen Elop did to Nokia



  2. Microsoft Wants to Remove (or Deprecate) PuTTY From Windows and Replace It With Proprietary Microsoft Software

    The most prominent NSA partner wants to 'contribute' to OpenSSH, one of the thorns in the side of spies all around the world



  3. EPO Corruption Compared to FIFA Corruption While 'Control Risks' Helps EPO Hide/Suppress Evidence of Corruption; Calls on German Authorities to Crack Down on Both

    As German authorities express eagerness to crack down on corruption calls emerge for action against the Munich-based EPO, where Battistelli acts like an out-of-control autocrat who tries to silence the media and conceal information about Topić's and his own abuses



  4. When Patent Lawyers Attack the Messengers for Stopping Software Patents, Ignoring Patent Law's New Post-Alice Reality

    Analysis of recent articles from patent lawyers, highlighting their bias and disregard for facts in this system which has become increasingly intolerant toward software patents



  5. Links 3/6/2015: More Ubuntu Phones, Qt Releases

    Links for the day



  6. Links 2/6/2015: Black Lab Linux Releases, Krita Fundraiser

    Links for the day



  7. IRC Proceedings: May 17th - May 30th, 2015

    Many IRC logs



  8. Sharp Drop in Microsoft Patents, But Not in Patent Assaults, Coordinated Attacks on Android/Linux, and Googlebombing

    Using patent blackmail (antithetical to the original goal of patents) and other forms of blackmail, Microsoft is desperately trying to crush GNU/Linux and Android, all while Windows 'sales' fall and investors lose confidence



  9. EPO Reluctantly (and Privately) Confirms Giving Public Money for Military-connected 'Control Risks' to Spy on Journalists and Their Sources While Techrights is Under Fresh DDOS Attacks

    The EPO President -- or anyone who is referred to as 'appointing authority' -- finds himself even deeper in a scandal as he silently attacks the very same people whom he pretends to negotiate with by contracting spies from London (to maliciously target British journalists)



  10. Links 1/6/2015: wattOS R9, Tanglu 3

    Links for the day



  11. Supreme Failure: With SCOTUS Approval of Patent Trolls and a Push by Justice Department to Reinforce Copyright on APIs (at SCOTUS Level) the Future Looks Gloomy

    The patent system goes wild in terms of scope, the nature of the plaintiff (merely purchasing patents), and the extension of patents to monopolies on named APIs (by virtue of deranged interpretation of copyright law)



  12. McAfee Associates Free Software and Anonymity With Crime

    Insecurity firm McAfee, whose record on Free software is appalling (it is Windows-centric for its business), continues years of tradition by slinging mud at Tor



  13. The EPO Still Wastes Public Money on Publicity Stunts and 'Reputation Management' Campaigns

    The European Patent Office (EPO) is misusing public funds to manufacture self-congratulatory publicity for itself whilst attacking those who write negative commentary



  14. The Lessons of Stuxnet: Never Use Microsoft Windows

    Windows is sufficiently 'NSA-compatible' for remote compromise and physical damage (sabotage) to highly sensitive, high-risk equipment



  15. Links 30/5/2015: Wine 1.7.44, Berry Linux 1.20

    Links for the day



  16. White House Intervention Harms Android and Every Software Developer on the Planet

    US Solicitor General Donald Verrilli urges the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) to let APIs be covered by copyrights, rendering almost every program a potential copyright violation



  17. Microsoft Lobbying in India Shoots Down or At Least Weakens Free/Libre Software Policy

    Microsoft's covert efforts (lobbying with the help of public partners like NASSCOM) to eliminate an India-leaning software policy in India is finally paying off



  18. Propaganda Mode for UPC Agreement Whilst EPO Increasingly Grants Patents on Software

    In order to make the Unitary Patent a reality (towards a 'no place to hide' patent approach) misleading claims are being made



  19. Patents Are Not Source Code

    Ford is once again misleading regarding Open Source, mischievously associating a patent pledge with Open Source



  20. Links 29/5/2015: ALT Linux 7.0.5, Google I/O 2015

    Links for the day



  21. Links 28/5/2015: SourceForge Hijack, RIP Marco Pesenti Gritti

    Links for the day



  22. Censorship on Reddit Has Gotten (Condé) Nasty and Silent, Even Actively Silenced

    Condé Nast has turned Reddit into a platform of censorship after the acquisition



  23. The Supreme Court of the United States Helps Patent Trolls

    In an unforeseen kind of ruling, the same court which slapped down a lot of software patents last year is now legitimising the actions of a patent troll



  24. Patent Lawyers Fight Hard for the Future of Software Patents

    Media that is dominated by patent lawyers and targets an audience of patent lawyers refuses to accept the post-Alice reality



  25. Fortune Glorifies Patent Troll Jay Walker (Patent Utility)

    Jay Walker, a patent troll, creates a Web-based trolling/'licensing' service and the corporate media helps him



  26. Stealing Android's Thunder, Making It All About Apple and Microsoft During Google I/O

    Misleading articles and conjoined media/analyst attacks on Android coincide with Google's event where major Android announcements are being made



  27. British Government May be a Step Closer to GNU/Linux (on the Desktops, Not Just Servers)

    The British government stops paying the criminal company that blackmails its members, thereby increasing the possibility of complete escape from proprietary software



  28. Microsoft's Patent Allies LG and Sony Agree to Put Microsoft Inside Android

    LG and Sony (of Rockstar Consortium) follow Samsung and Dell in Microsoft's campaign to turn Android into 'Microsoft Android' using patents-induced pressure/leverage



  29. Yet Another Major Security Deficiency in UEFI

    UEFI is inherently insecure, more so than the alternatives which it strives to replace, including Free/libre ones



  30. Links 27/5/2015: Fedora 22 is Out, Mandriva Liquidated

    Links for the day


CoPilotCo

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time

CoPilotCo

Recent Posts