French regulators seeking investigation of Skype for not registering as telecom operator [Update]

French regulators are asking government prosecutors to investigate Skype, a Microsoft subsidiary, for failing to register as a telecommunications operator as required by French law.

According to a news release by ARCEP, France's telecommunications regulatory agency, Skype has been asked "to declare itself an electronic communications operator" several times, and Skype has not complied with the requests. As a telecommunications operator, Skype would be required to offer certain services, including routing emergency calls and implementing a way for "legal wiretapping" to be used.

Because Skype's service offers "French internet users with services that allow them to make phone calls to or from a device connected to the internet," such as a smartphone or computer, ARCEP claims it's required to register as a telecommunications operator in the country. Companies that fit the agency's definition of a telecommunications operator and don't register as such are making a criminal offense, the agency's news release claims.

Skype's failure to register as a telecommunications operator likely relates to the fact that it's not a traditional telephone service, but rather a voice-over-IP service. The regulatory agency claims that the company is still providing a telephone service, however.

ARCEP's request for investigation comes less than a week after another regulatory debacle for Microsoft, as the European Union fined the company $733 million on March 6 for not including a browser selection ballot in Windows 7's first service pack.

Neowin has contacted Microsoft seeking comment. This article will be updated if and when a response is received.

Update: A Microsoft representative has issued the following statement on behalf of Skype:

Skype is a globally known and used software app that seamlessly enables millions of people to communicate every day via their internet connection.  We have engaged with ARCEP in discussion over the last several months during which we shared our view that Skype is not a provider of electronic communications services under French law.  We will continue to work with ARCEP in a constructive fashion to seek agreement on a resolution that ensures people, wherever they are, can continue to rely on Skype as they do today.

Source: ARCEP via The New York Times

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