Belgian court to decide whether Skype is a telecoms operator

Skype, or rather Microsoft, is being sued by the state in Belgium. This is because the company was asked to disclose customer messages and calls from Skype in a criminal investigation.

Now the interesting part here is that Microsoft isn't breaking the law by not disclosing any such information, because Skype is not an actual telecom service – which would be required by law to disclose such info when a court asks for it.

However, the state is arguing the opposite, that Skype and other services that offer voice-over-IP services, are functionally equivalent to traditional telecom operators and should follow the same rules. Whichever way the court decides, this will be an interesting precedent.

For a long time now, traditional carriers have bemoaned the rise of VOIP services as being in direct competition with their business model but not under the same scrutiny or regulations. This was generally dismissed up until recently when the popularity of such services exploded.

Now the European Commission is looking at revamping many of the Union’s rules regarding digital services and the way telecom operators work across the 28-nation bloc. As we reported recently, the Commission looks set to take such complaints against Skype and other services into account, and this case will, no doubt, strengthen one of the arguing sides. Which one remains to be seen in the coming months.

Source: Reuters

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