Skype under investigation over NSA links

P2P voice calling service Skype is under investigation in Luxembourg after it was accused of passing confidential information over to the National Security Agency (NSA).

The company faces harsh criminal and administrative sanctions from Luxembourg's data protection commissioner and the EU, including a ban on associating with the US agency.

According to the Guardian, the European based company could also be fined if it is found their links to the NSA are in violation of the country's data-protection laws. Skype is being allegedly investigated by Luxembourgian authorities after data sharing accusations emerged in June.  

The company- which was almost named Skyper- could join Yahoo, Google and Apple as a leading company to have contributed to the NSA. The company was sold to eBay in 2005, and eventually Microsoft in 2011.  This rapid change of ownership could have led to the increasing compliance with the NSA, according to documents obtained by the Guardian.

When it began in 2003, Skype was known for its secure peer-to-peer phone calls, which meant voice communication data were not routed over a centralised network. The Scandinavian company quickly built a reputation for being a reliable and trustworthy means of communication. Eric King, the head of research at human rights group Privacy International, says Skype users should no longer trust the voIP service.

"The only people who lose are users. Skype promoted itself as a fantastic tool for secure communications around the world, but quickly caved to government pressure and can no longer be trusted to protect user privacy."

Luxembourg's data-protection chief, Gerard Lommel, declined to comment for the Guardian story citing an ongoing investigation.

Source: The Guardian | Image via Dagensit

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Why is it that all I see is anger at companies like MS over this stuff?

Don't you guys get it? If you don't go after the government itself, nothing changes.

Why do you think MS and other US companies are currently suing the US government? Its because they are tired of being forced via pressure from the government to comply with secret orders. So hitting MS, etc for big fines does little.

I would love to see everyone that wants to attack the companies to turn their attention to the government instead. If you change them, then you fix the problem. These companies would much prefer to not comply with such orders.

Good, and I hope they're not the only tech company that gets punished. They have all been doing it, they should all be punished.

Javik said,
Good, and I hope they're not the only tech company that gets punished. They have all been doing it, they should all be punished.

for following court orders so as to not be held in contempt? lol you guys kill me.

vcfan said,

for following court orders so as to not be held in contempt? lol you guys kill me.

No, they were not following court orders, they were following underhanded government orders. That's why people are annoyed about it. And sorry to bust your nuggets but again, I must remind you the united states of america does not equal the world. When dealing with European citizens data and do business in the EU you must abide by European privacy laws and I can guarantee you no European court ordered Microsoft to hand this data to the NSA

Javik said,

No, they were not following court orders, they were following underhanded government orders. That's why people are annoyed about it. And sorry to bust your nuggets but again, I must remind you the united states of america does not equal the world. When dealing with European citizens data and do business in the EU you must abide by European privacy laws and I can guarantee you no European court ordered Microsoft to hand this data to the NSA

you contradicted yourself. you call for these companies to be punished, yet its the government giving these orders. and yes,these are court orders. the data is gathered by going through the legal process, and if you defy these orders,you will be punished severely. yahoo fought some of these orders and were shot down by the courts. Microsoft and google are suing the u.s government to reveal requests of user data. how again should these companies be punished if they are resisting these actions?

vcfan said,

you contradicted yourself. you call for these companies to be punished, yet its the government giving these orders. and yes,these are court orders. the data is gathered by going through the legal process, and if you defy these orders,you will be punished severely. yahoo fought some of these orders and were shot down by the courts. Microsoft and google are suing the u.s government to reveal requests of user data. how again should these companies be punished if they are resisting these actions?

No, I didn't contradict myself. The US government are strong arming the companies into giving up the data and they are doing it. It doesn't matter what foreign governments order, it's the holder of the data that is responsible for it's safe keeping, and when working in Europe and holding our people's data you abide by the law. It's back to the same old scenario, the united states thinking it has the right to be the world police, against our right to tell them to sod off and leave our data alone.

No, the NSA's spying was not done through legal court ordered means, that's why nobody knew a sodding thing about it until the documents were leaked so kindly just cut the lies please. They're only fighting it now because the document leaks have caused them severe embarrassment and they don't want to lose business, and I don't really care about their hypocritical U-turn. It's easy to be "ethical" after the fact, but it's more meaningful to me to be ethical when you're being asked for the data. I don't give a flying fig about the Americans and their "war on terror", it's not the American government's data, it's mine and yeah I bloody hope they do get punished if they keep handing it over so readily.

Javik said,

No, the NSA's spying was not done through legal court ordered means, that's why nobody knew a sodding thing about it until the documents were leaked so kindly just cut the lies please.

oh the irony. just because the info wasn't completely public doesn't mean it wasn't legal. these orders were given from a U.S federal court known as the U.S Foreign Intelligence Court.

Javik said,

They're only fighting it now because the document leaks have caused them severe embarrassment and they don't want to lose business

oh yeah? that's why companies like yahoo were fighting these requests for years. this was from 2008.

"The company argued that the order violated its users' Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. The court called that worry “overblown.”

and


The court left the company with two options, according to the paper: "Hand over the data or break the law."

And their 2008 case, because it was made partially public, has had an effect on other Silicon Valley companies facing similar requests: "it puts them on notice that they need not even try to test their legality."

http://www.theatlanticwire.com...ought-prism-and-lost/66233/

did you hear that? that's the sound of your theory that youre trying to pass off as fact shattering into a million pieces.


vcfan said,

Did you hear that? that's the sound of your theory that youre trying to pass off as fact shattering into a million pieces.

Oh, here's the clincher, something I'll just repeat for you again. The united states of america != the world. If the companies violated European law, they along with the US government deserve to be sued. And I hope that the European courts nail both of them to the wall.

absolutely, therefore if MSFT was fined by E.U, all Microsoft have to do is ask for NSA to foot the bills, and NSA will pay it using U.S taxpayer monies.

Therefore I encourages U.S taxpayers to use Skype as they already pay for it.

Psssht I doubt any fine will be imposed. Bunch of hypocrites in the EU. EU has their own prism like programs in place so I'm not sure what all the hooplah is. It seems that they have to make it look like they are doing something to their electorate.

jamdown said,
Psssht I doubt any fine will be imposed. Bunch of hypocrites in the EU. EU has their own prism like programs in place so I'm not sure what all the hooplah is. It seems that they have to make it look like they are doing something to their electorate.

That comment makes absolutely no sense.

- Assuming that spy services actually protect us, why would the EU agree to knowingly release its citizens data to the US? At most, they would share intelligence, but to share the raw data (signals) could actually hurt EU interests in negotiations ( multiple NSA news stories confirm they spy on us Europeans for negotial advantage, not for terrorism, and NSA still publicly says such advantage is not true - but do you believe that Europe is a terrorism haven? ). Why the f*ck should my data be in US hands? If we spied on you ( which is unlikely given that most services are hosted in the US and you'll probably use those anyway ) would you be happy?

- Assuming spy services endanger us, they can actually be compromising the fundamental security safeguards of our services, does the EU want that for their own governmental institutions or even citizens?

Fining Microsoft is the least they can do, talking to US diplomats for explanations seems like a logical next step. This is not acceptable, in EU our privacy safeguards are very extensive and are part of the law. BTW Neowin, cookie placing warnings are mandatory for any website, even hosted outside European territory, as long as it reaches an European user.

Edited by Ricmacas, Oct 12 2013, 12:20pm :

No, they don't. Some countries in the EU may also use them, but they are in no way connected to the EU. And if they are, they too are violating European law and could face heavy sanctions.

well, Chinese version of Skype are known to reports detailed log of any detected sensitive keywords back to China Govt. Agency.
Its easy to apply the similar (& stealthy) means to make Skype reports silently to NSA without its users knowing anything about it.

So please, by any means, fine the MSFT even more .

The purpose of security agencies is to ensure that the country they are protecting is able to flourish both socially and economically, without malicious interference. If the businesses they are protecting cannot be trusted enough for others to do business with them, due to security agency involvement. Then the security agency itself is now causing the very harm they supposedly try to prevent.

cyborgs said,
MS gonna get fine again. So lucky.

This time it would be justified and others (apple, google, facebook etc) should get it too.

Only then these companies will really put legal effort to stop this bull**** in their home country.

Crimson Rain said,
This time it would be justified and others (apple, google, facebook etc) should get it too.

Only then these companies will really put legal effort to stop this bull**** in their home country.

So these companies can choose force from one entity versus force from another. Statists need to wake up.

Crimson Rain said,

This time it would be justified and others (apple, google, facebook etc) should get it too.

Only then these companies will really put legal effort to stop this bull**** in their home country.

Not really sure how it's fair to fine a company for agreeing to requirements issued by a secret court ruling that they cannot publicly appeal in their home country. Furthermore, anyone thinking that any company-run communication service is not being tapped by the NSA is naive, particularly on the scale of Skype.

Luxembourg should be suing the US government in the US for having unconstitutional court systems. Maybe someone would then question the legality of the FISA courts altogether, rather than having both sides of the aisle claiming there's kind-of-maybe a teeny-tiny issue, but ignoring the Constitutionality of it all because... terrorists!