Microsoft patent could use Skype to eavesdrop

It has been reported on several news sites that Microsoft filed a patent back in December 2009, that involves the use of VoIP technology to silently record calls sent over a network. Given that Microsoft recently bought the popular Skype service, there is a real chance Microsoft could or indeed has, implemented the technology in order to do so.

The patent, which was registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, describes "recording agents" which are able to legally intercept calls sent over a VoIP network. According to ConceivablyTech, the patent is one of the corporation's more elaborate and detailed filings. It does not mention however, the use of such technology within the client itself but rather would be included in other devices that network traffic may pass through, such as routers.

Given that Skype was bought much later than when the patent was published, there is no reason to believe it was designed with Skype specifically in mind. What it does highlight however, is that the company may be using it elsewhere and that it has the potential to be applied to the Skype network.

Call monitoring is nothing new; it's been used for years on traditional telephone networks, but this is one of the first examples that such technology has been designed to work over the internet. Microsoft justifies its patent with this fact because traditional methods of call monitoring do not work with VoIP technology. Given many governments desires to keep a close eye on their citizens, there will no doubt be more news stories in the future as to how communication is discreetly observed online.

Image Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Thanks to M2Ys4U for the news tip.

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32 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

First off you creating a scare bec you are speculating. You are aware that based on the EULA, Microsoft could pull data from your PC without telling you...right? Yet there is no record of them eer doing so without you knowing. Unlike Apple who was recording data with their phone.

Its not what they can or can't do. Its if they will do it. Microsoft isn't your worse enemy. Your GOV'T is. They snoop on you and they dont have to tell you.

TechieXP said,
Its not what they can or can't do. Its if they will do it. Microsoft isn't your worse enemy. Your GOV'T is. They snoop on you and they dont have to tell you.

Not sure government is my worst enemy, but they continually prove to be untrustworthy. That is why the Founding Fathers repeatedly said to watch your government like a hawk. Government's naturally tendency is always to want more power and to abuse it. That's not conspiracy theory, hate speech, being anti-government, etc. That is just a fact that even the Founding Fathers knew and history around the entire world proves that governments and rulers, as a general rule, over time grab for more power and usually try to sell the people on how this and that is for their benefit. History does repeat itself.

Oh come on!
WTH ?

I am going to stop using skype. Any Skype-like program with built in encryption and anti-eavesdropping ability ?

Alley Cat said,
Oh come on!
WTH ?

I am going to stop using skype. Any Skype-like program with built in encryption and anti-eavesdropping ability ?

Well this is a theory of use... But if you are going to stand up for your privacy, then be sure to close all Google related accounts and stop using Google search. As the Google access and use of information is admitted, well known, and often used to gather data to anticipate trends and other information about about corporations that would normally be insider trading, as well as information about powerful political figures.

The difference between Google online services and Microsoft... Microsoft and their employees have no way to access your data, as they would have to break at minimum a 256bit key. Google and their employees can easily query data on any account and freely read it.

What to see a world of information = power, and you will see how Google has managed to do things they should never have gotten away with and have anticipated trends and stocks and company purchases that are 'psychic' or based on information they have data mined, as they admit to doing...

So good luck with the 'theory' of Microsoft doing something nefarious with this...

The truly DUMB part of this article, is that ANYONE can do this and use this technology covertly, as you don't need the freaking patent to break the law, and you certainly wouldn't care about a freaking patent lawsuit for secretly using the technology.

Really?

thenetavenger said,

The difference between Google online services and Microsoft... Microsoft and their employees have no way to access your data, as they would have to break at minimum a 256bit key. Google and their employees can easily query data on any account and freely read it.

Really?

Not that I don't believe you, but if I ever wanted to back-up this reference, do you have a source handy?

Netwitness or Netminer (can't remember which) has been able to record Skype calls for a while. As long as it's running before the phone call to intercept the secure traffic.

Yeah I bet they're just going to listen to everyone. It's the same as wiretapping. Listening to calls that are believed used for criminals. No need to put on your tinfoil hats and start with conspiracies. They're not going to listen and record you talking to your mother every Sunday afternoon...

Uh, couldn't anyone do exactly the same thing, if they licensed the patent? And just because [company X] patented something, doesn't mean it'll get used. Skype is VOIP, but so are existing MS products - what does Skype really have to do with it?

Kirkburn said,
Uh, couldn't anyone do exactly the same thing, if they licensed the patent? And just because [company X] patented something, doesn't mean it'll get used. Skype is VOIP, but so are existing MS products - what does Skype really have to do with it?

conspiracy theory

Exactly this has everything to do with Lync server and nothing to do with Skype. Yet!!!

Its nothing more than glorified call monitoring that pretty much every VOIP phone system has the capability to perform.

NewDeadMan said,
Exactly this has everything to do with Lync server and nothing to do with Skype. Yet!!!

Its nothing more than glorified call monitoring that pretty much every VOIP phone system has the capability to perform.


Yaaay rational thought

Wouldn't this be more for businesses who might want to record/listen in on employees "for customer service purposes"? I mean, if it's company property, I think they have the right to do that.

Apparently we want the government to take down terrorists and safeguard our homes from violent threats. But all measures necessary to do so are qualified as 'an invasion of privacy'... Go figure.

EddieZ said,
Apparently we want the government to take down terrorists and safeguard our homes from violent threats. But all measures necessary to do so are qualified as 'an invasion of privacy'... Go figure.

The body scanners are just stupid.

Article said,
"recording agents" which are able to legally intercept calls sent over a VoIP network.

Not sure, I have ever heard this one before. How can "tapping" be legal?

ahhell said,

Never heard of a warrant?

I initially thought the article meant, 'MS' could legally intercept data.
Now I got it. With Law Enforcement's blessings.
Sorry, my bad.

MS Lose32 said,
Down with privacy! I want MS to know EVERYTHING! /s

Don't worry. MS can just buy it from the fruit and infinity, they already have it.

SPEhosting said,

microsoft DO NOT have to record it BUT if they record it they HAVE to GIVE it to the government..

Well, this is completely theoretical at this point, but it might be "On Demand", so it only records what law enforcement needs to record...

More then likely this was envisioned to assist law enforcement in recording (tapping) VoIP calls... you know, for legitimate crime fighting purposes.

for **** sake why cant they just let us keep to our selves stuff them wanting to protect the country its them wanting to steal ideas they know massive companies use skype.... there is no reason that phone calls should be recorded its a ****ing joke I hate the corporate twats! :@ GRRR THIS MAKES ME SO MAD

CAll ur congress to eliminate CeeEyeAy, EffBeeEye, problem solved. They have been monitoring your cellphones and landlines, so why is VOIP any different?

SPEhosting said,
for **** sake why cant they just let us keep to our selves stuff them wanting to protect the country its them wanting to steal ideas they know massive companies use skype.... there is no reason that phone calls should be recorded its a ****ing joke I hate the corporate twats! :@ GRRR THIS MAKES ME SO MAD

i think this is for corporations.. like how they can see all the emails going in and out.. now they can track employees phone calls over voip

SPEhosting said,
for **** sake why cant they just let us keep to our selves stuff them wanting to protect the country its them wanting to steal ideas they know massive companies use skype.... there is no reason that phone calls should be recorded its a ****ing joke I hate the corporate twats! :@ GRRR THIS MAKES ME SO MAD

don't forget gmail that is accessible by human eyes... this gives google more power than people realize