Groups raise questions about privacy on Skype

Advocacy groups call on Skype and owner Microsoft to detail access by third parties such as governments
  • Grant Gross (IDG News Service)
  • — 24 January, 2013 16:50

Skype owner Microsoft should release information about how much user data it gives to third parties, including government agencies, several organisations and individuals said in a letter to company officials.

The groups, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Reporters Without Borders and GreatFire.org, called on Microsoft and Skype to also release information about whether third parties can intercept Skype calls and to explain their position on complying with wiretap laws in the US. Forty-five groups and more than 60 people signed the letter to Microsoft officials.

With about 600 million users, Skype is effectively one of the largest telecommunications providers worldwide, the letter noted.

"Many of its users rely on Skype for secure communications - whether they are activists operating in countries governed by authoritarian regimes, journalists communicating with sensitive sources, or users who wish to talk privately in confidence with business associates, family, or friends," the letter said.

Skype is reviewing the letter, a spokesman said.

Skype users "work in the face of persistently unclear and confusing statements about the confidentiality of Skype conversations," including access by government agencies, the letter said.

The letter called on Microsoft and Skype to disclose what user information they collect and to disclose Skype's relationship with Chinese mobile provider TOM Online and other third-party licensees of Skype technology.

Other online companies, including Google and Twitter, release regular reports detailing request for user data by third parties, the letter noted.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Tags: Internet-based applications and services, telecommunication, GreatFire.org, internet, Electronic Frontier Foundation, privacy, video, Google, Reporters Without Borders, skype, security, voip, Microsoft, twitter

Forget BYOD – it's now BYOC

READ THIS ARTICLE
DO NOT SHOW THIS BOX AGAIN [ x ]
Comments are now closed.
CSO Corporate Partners
  • Webroot
  • Trend Micro
  • NetIQ
rhs_login_lockGet exclusive access to CSO, invitation only events, reports & analysis.
CSO Directory

Enterprise Security for Endpoints

Think your endpoints are secure? Think again. Learn why Trend Micro can help.

Latest Jobs
Security Awareness Tip

Incident handling is a vast topic, but here are a few tips for you to consider in your incident response. I hope you never have to use them, but the odds are at some point you will and I hope being ready saves you pain (or your job!).


  1. Have an incident response plan.

  2. Pre-define your incident response team 

  3. Define your approach: watch and learn or contain and recover.

  4. Pre-distribute call cards.

  5. Forensic and incident response data capture.

  6. Get your users on-side.

  7. Know how to report crimes and engage law enforcement. 

  8. Practice makes perfect.

For the full breakdown on this article

Security ABC Guides

Warning: Tips for secure mobile holiday shopping

I’m dating myself, but I remember when holiday shopping involved pouring through ads in the Sunday paper, placing actual phone calls from tethered land lines to research product stock and availability, and actually driving places to pick things up. Now, holiday shoppers can do all of that from a smartphone or tablet in a few seconds, but there are some security pitfalls to be aware of.