Skype privacy called into question again, following Snowden revelations
Microsoft-owned Skype is being investigated by data protection authorities in Luxembourg, over concerns it could have been passing users’ data over to US intelligence officers, according to a report.
Luxembourg’s data protection commissioner is particularly concerned about the NSA’s PRISM initiative, which Microsoft was allegedly involved in right from the start, as revealed by leaks from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Skype and the NSA
Skype has a base in Luxembourg and it could be fined if it has broken the law, as could parent company Microsoft, according to the Guardian. Luxembourg has enshrined the right to privacy in its law.
The investigation was said to have started in June, just after Snowden’s revelations broke.
Skype was and still is trusted by many for private communications. However, its ties with Microsoft and Skype’s new architecture, which has seen communications data placed on servers, have concerned some. Previously, data only travelled between nodes and little was stored.
Communications remain encrypted, but the NSA documents appeared to show the agency had found a way to triple the amount of Skype video calls it could collect. In 2011 the company was compelled to work with the US government surveillance team by an order signed by the attorney general.
Skype declined to answer any technical questions about how law enforcement could break the privacy protections, or clarify whether it had access to encryption keys. In 2012, it told a UK parliamentary committee it did not.
The comms provider did reiterate its claim that it wants the US government to give it greater remit to talk about what kinds of requests it gets from the shadowy Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).
“Microsoft believes the US constitution guarantees our freedom to share more information with the public, yet the government is stopping us,” a spokesperson said.
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