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. Italy is Cracking Down on Microsoft's Monopoly Abuse While Gradually Moving to GNU/Linux

    Italy is not only moving to Free/Open Source software but also to GNU/Linux while at the same time barring Microsoft from forcibly tying Windows to new PCs



  2. OpenSUSE's 'Assurances' Are Classic MBA School Hogwash

    OpenSUSE is not part of any commitment, except for SUSE's; the impact of the Novell/SUSE acquisition casts uncertainty on the project's future



  3. Links 16/9/2014: Firefox OS Smartphones in Bangladesh, “Treasure Map” of the Internet

    Links for the day



  4. The United Kingdom Should Dump Microsoft For the Sake of National Security

    The UK has issues of Microsoft dependency and Windows viruses; its migration to Free software and GNU/Linux is not fast enough to guard its autonomy in the age of digital imperialism<



  5. CBS Hires Even More Microsoft Staff to Cover Microsoft Matters

    CBS continues to be infested with Microsoft staff past and present (this time Dave Johnson) and the bias in output is quite revealing



  6. Microsoft Has Just Killed Minecraft for GNU/Linux and the Possibility of Free/Open Source Releases

    Persson sells out to Microsoft and lets the abusive monopolist destroy the popular cross-platform game that a community has been built around



  7. Another Reason to Boycott Intel UEFI

    More anti-competitive aspects are revealed inside UEFI, which helps merginalise GNU/Linux



  8. Quick Mention: Novell and SUSE Passed to Microsoft's 'Partner of the Year', Microsoft Focus

    Novell is changing hands again, and falling into the hands of even more Microsoft-friendly actors



  9. Links 16/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC5, KDE Frameworks 5.2.0

    Links for the day



  10. Željko Topić, Benoît Battistelli, and the European Patent Office (EPO): Part II

    Part II of our look into the EPO appointment of Željko Topić and other matters showing the dubious integrity of the EPO



  11. Links 14/9/2014: Android-based Watches Earn Optimism

    Links for the day



  12. Links 14/9/2014: Eucalyptus Devoured

    Links for the day



  13. Links 11/9/2014: Linux Toilet Project, Linux-Based Wheelchair Project

    Links for the day



  14. Links 10/9/2014: Brian Stevens in Google, Ubuntu 14.10 Expectations

    Links for the day



  15. Links 9/9/2014: Hating/Loving Linux, Android Aplenty

    Links for the day



  16. Links 8/9/2014: Linux 3.17 RC 4, Switzerland Welcoming Snowden

    Links for the day



  17. Suspicion of High-Level Corruption at the European Patent Office (EPO): Part I

    The European Patent Office (EPO) Vice-President has a background of corruption and his appointment to the EPO too is believed to be reliant on systemic corruption



  18. Links 6/9/2014: Core OS at DigitalOcean, Women in Xorg

    Links for the day



  19. Software Patents 'Quality' Debated in Courts, Microsoft's Biggest Patent Troll Still a Chronic Liar

    Intellectual Ventures, Microsoft's and Bill Gates' largest patent proxy, continues to spread lies about its motivations, claiming that patent assessment is among the goals when in fact only the courts and patent offices do this



  20. New Article Explains How Bill Gates Prevents Schools From Moving to GNU/Linux and Free Software

    A new article from Al Jazeera provides details about the role of so-called 'charities' of billionaires inside school systems



  21. Microsoft Sued for Large-scale Copyright Abuses

    Microsoft reveals its disregard for copyright law which it loves so much to wield as a weapon against its competition and clients



  22. Links 5/9/2014: New WordPress, Systemd Debate Continues

    Links for the day



  23. 'Embrace and Extend' at Microsoft: The New Generation

    Some of the latest examples of Microsoft's predatory acts against Free software and against competition in general, disguised as acts of friendliness



  24. Bill Gates' God Complex: Common Core a One-Man Campaign of Greed and Control

    The push for Common Core is overwhelmingly dominated by Bill Gates, who intimidates and even resorts to retribution against critics while bribing those who help him accomplish the goal of privatised (for his private profit) indoctrination in US schools



  25. Bill Gates Investments Harm the World, Not Improve the World, Based on New Exclusive Piece of Investigative Journalism at The Nation

    The Gates Foundation's profiteering efforts and lack of ethics outlined in a new report that many sites around the Web find fascinating and mostly irrefutable



  26. Links 3/9/2014: Android Gadgets, New Tails OS

    Links for the day



  27. Linus Torvalds DebConf Talk

    Torvalds' latest talk which got media attention earlier this month



  28. Microsoft Should Not be Considered Too Big to Jail

    Microsoft continues to use dumping as a strategy which revolves around starving the competition, not beating the competition



  29. Pro-Software Patents Voices Finally Acknowledge the Demise of Software Patents in the United States

    A milestone is reached as even the most zealous supporters of patents on algorithms (or computer-implemented inventions, or software patents) are admitting that the era of software patents may be over



  30. New Lies About Microsoft 'Privacy' and New FUD Against the GPL Comes From 'Former' Microsoft Staff at Black Duck

    More AstroTurfing by sites that are run by Microsoft MVPs and firms which were created by people from Microsoft


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