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. Ruling Against 'Abstract' Software Patents is Already Derailing Patent Attacks on Linux and Free Software

    Patent litigation against Android/Linux impeded by the introduction of arguments that cite the Supreme Court



  2. Links 30/7/2014: Chris Beard as CEO of Mozilla

    Links for the day



  3. New Optimism in the Age of Doubt Over Software Patents

    As the tide turns against software patents, even in their country of origin, their opponents come out of the woodwork to celebrate



  4. Links 28/7/2014: New Linux RC, Plasma 5 Live in Kubuntu

    Links for the day



  5. Links 27/7/2014: KDE 4.14 Beta 3, KDE 4.14 Beta 3 Released

    Links for the day



  6. Apple and Microsoft Are Proprietary Software Companies and the Media Should Stop Openwashing Them

    New examples where proprietary software giants are characterised as FOSS-embracing and FOSS-friendly by gullible or dishonest 'journalists'



  7. Bloomberg's Microsoft Propaganda

    Bloomberg delivers 'damage control' and PR ahead of the layoffs announcement; Microsoft uses Nokia to hide it and Bloomberg helps Microsoft by radically modifying headlines



  8. Frequency of Browser Back Doors in Microsoft Windows is Doubling

    The vulnerabilities which Microsoft tells the NSA about (before these are patched) are significantly growing in terms of their numbers



  9. FUD Entities Entering the FOSS World

    Symantec enters the AllSeen Alliance and Sonatype is once again trying to claim great insecurity in FOSS due to software licensing



  10. Groklaw Back in the Wake of ODF in the UK?





  11. Links 26/7/2014: New Wine, Chromebooks Strong Sales

    Links for the day



  12. Links 25/7/2014: GOG With GNU/Linux, Ubuntu 14.04.1 LTS

    Links for the day



  13. Links 24/7/2014: Oracle Linux 7; Fedora Delays

    Links for the day



  14. Valerie Strauss Explains Why Gates Foundation's Lobbying for 'Common Core' (Privatisation) is a Swindle That Makes Microsoft Richer

    Continued criticism of the Gates Foundation's lobbying and masquerading, with more journalists brave enough to highlight the corruption



  15. USPTO Officially Sets New Guidelines to Limit Scope of Software Patents in the United States

    Even patent lawyers finally acknowledge that the incentive to file software patent applications has been reduced, as the scope of patents on software has been noticeably narrowed and they are harder to acquire, let alone enforce in a courtroom



  16. UK Government Adopts OpenDocument Format (ODF) and Microsoft Already Attacks the Government Over It, Showing Absolutely No Commitment to Open Standards

    Only "Microsoft as the standard" is the 'standard' Microsoft is willing to accept, as its response to the Cabinet Office's judgment reveals



  17. Microsoft Layoffs of 2014

    Another quick look at Microsoft's horrible state of affairs and why it has virtually nothing to do with Nokia



  18. Links 22/7/2014: Linux 3.16 RC 6, New UberStudent

    Links for the day



  19. Links 20/7/2014: Jolla in India, Mega Censored in Italy

    Links for the day



  20. Longtime Mono Booster Joins Microsoft-linked Xamarin

    Jo Shields almost joins Microsoft, settling instead for its proxy, Xamarin



  21. Linux Foundation Welcomes Patent Aggressor Red Bend Software

    The Linux Foundation's AllSeen Alliance welcomes as a member a company that uses software patents to sue Free/Open Source software



  22. Matt Levy From Patent Progress (and CCIA) Does Not Really Want Patent Progress

    Matthew ('Matt') Levy moved into a foe of patent progress last year, but he still runs a site calls Patent Progress, in which he diverts all attention to patent trolls (as large corporations such as Microsoft like to do)



  23. Attacking FOSS by Ignoring/Overlooking Issues With Proprietary Software

    The biasing strategy which continues to be used to demonise Free/Open Source software (FOSS) along with some new examples



  24. Links 19/7/2014: CRUX 3.1 is Out, CyanogenMod Competes With Google Now

    Links for the day



  25. Microsoft's Massive Layoffs Go Far Beyond Nokia; Nokia's Android Phones Axed by Microsoft's Elop

    Microsoft's rapid demise and permanent exit from Nokia's last remaining Linux platform (after Microsoft had killed two more)



  26. Patents on Software Already Being Invalidated in Courts Owing to SCOTUS Ruling on 'Abstract' Patents

    The Federal Circuit Appeals Court has just "invalidated a software patent for being overly abstract," says a patents expert



  27. OpenSUSE 'Community' is Crumbling, AttachMSFT Killed SUSE's Potential (Except as Microsoft Tax)

    Not much too see in the land of SUSE and Attachmate, or formerly the company known as Novell



  28. Links 18/7/2014: Slackware Turns 21, Spotify Switches to Ubuntu

    Links for the day



  29. Links 16/7/2014: Manjaro 0.8.10 Third Update, SIA Migrates to Red Hat

    Links for the day



  30. Microsoft's Latest Round of Massive/Bulk/Large-scale Layoffs

    Microsoft boosters are preparing 'damage control' pieces ahead of massive layoffs at 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