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03.04.14

Skype Chief Executive Quits Microsoft Amid NSA Scandals

Posted in Red Hat at 8:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A day or so after Yahoo was revealed to have been used to illegally spy on users’ webcams the former Skype chief executive resigns (effective immediately)

SOMETHING TRULY ugly is happening at Microsoft. Not only did Microsoft collude with the criminal NSA but it also turned Skype into a surveillance machine. To make matters worse, Microsoft is now shamelessly hoovering up personal data from Windows PCs (article in German) and executives are fleeing (can anyone blame them?).

“Tony Bates, the former Skype chief executive and currently head of Microsoft’s business development, is to leave the company immediately,” says this article (titled “Microsoft Loses Two Top Executives”), “while Reller, co-head of Microsoft’s Windows unit, will stay on board during a transition period” (damage control).

Yesterday we wrote about Microsoft’s Kinect as a target of surveillance (mentioned in the context of Yahoo). It doesn’t get any worse, does it? Even video of people who use Microsoft products seems to be intercepted and saved, obviously against the law (millions are affected, so there is no reasonable suspicion). The timing of this immediate resignation is interesting to say the very least because it overlaps reports about Yahoo video chats as targets of interception and mass violations (GCHQ is said to have watched and probably recorded hundreds of thousands of innocent people masturbating). Based on previous leaks (about Skype), it is reasonable to say that Skype is not exempted from this and its violations are no different. We just haven’t seen enough documents about it (yet).

Meanwhile, as Sam Varghese notes [1], Red Hat is failing to exploit these scandals to its own advantage, perhaps because Red Hat too has something to hide [1, 2, 3].

It would be nice if more people started to appreciate Free software, at the very least because of privacy (which a lot of people understand and value).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Linux companies never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity

    It would be heartening to see James Whitehurst, the head of Red Hat Linux, the biggest commercial Linux outfit, and one that has seen billing go above the billion-dollar mark, deliver a speech at some official forum that underlined the fact that his company’s product – and that of other commercial Linux companies – provides a guarantee against the insertion of backdoors.

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3 Comments

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    March 4, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Gravatar

    Both Red Hat and Canonical had been disappointingly quiet on the topic. Sam does point out that there is a real opportunity. They should take that opportunity or else the situation needs looking into.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    The FSF updated the site when the leaks started to come out. The FSF realised there was an opportunity there.

    In Techrights IRC I told Jono Bacon (back when the leaks began) that it’s a great chance for Canonical to promote Ubuntu based on the promise of privacy. He didn’t take me too seriously (I guess Amazon-Canonical search deal and Amazon-CIA DC deal did not help) and the Web site was never updated to even mention the P word.

    Well, at least Ubuntu’s front page no longer promotes Skype…

    Red Hat never mentions the P word (privacy). It hardly even talks about its relationship with the NSA (except when it comes to SELinux).

    Needs Sunlight Reply:

    He’s probably not the right person. Someone more oriented towards community or marketing would be the right choice. A lot of time has gone and yet the opportunity persists, if Canonical would take it. Only so much can be done by word-of-mouth. Some initiative does need to be taken at or near the top. The Amazon deals and others like it seem to have hurt Canonical’s options here.

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