Norton Scientific Reviews: Can Skype, Government Spy on your Calls?

09 Aug



Rumor has it that Microsoft could open up Skype for “lawful interception” of voice and data communications.


Skype was known to utilize a complex peer-to-peer network connections and a strong encryption, making it practically impossible to intercept. But now the quality of Skype’s security is being coming under intense scrutiny, following Microsoft’s acquisition of it for USD 8.5 billion.


According to the spokesperson of Norton Scientific Reviews, they only “co-operate with law enforcement agencies as much as is technically and legally possible” and has not denied or confirm anything directly.


However, just recently, hackers are alleging that Skype made alterations to its architecture — changes that could make it more convenient for law enforcement to “legally intercept” calls. Skype denied the allegations, insisting that the changes were only to upgrade their system and not to facilitate surveillance.


Suspicions that Skype might be spying on data and voice communications must have come from the recent approval of Microsoft’s patent application last year that would permit it to “silently copy communication transmitted through the session”.


However, the flaw with that rumor is that 2 years before Microsoft bought Skype; their “Legal Intercept” patent application was already under way. Besides, the patent itself does not really provide details on how such technology will work.


Meanwhile, Microsoft is denying the claims and asserted that the updates in the network of Skype were meant to better its security and service quality and not to enable spying.


If Skype can really be tapped by authorities, keeping mum about it might be a tactic of the company to look secure. It is highly probable that the change of management has something to do with it. Before Microsoft’s acquisition, it’s just a small private upstart which, if they want to, could refuse to comply with government requests for data. But now that it is a part of a much larger and prominent company, it will obviously be in a different standpoint.


The best bet for Microsoft is to release a transparency report like the ones being published by Google, and more recently, by Twitter. Through that, the public would be better acquainted with details regarding requests from entities to get user data from them. Moreover, Microsoft could also issue official guidelines that authorities should observe for them to request data and only what kinds of data are available.