Skype co-operating closely with Intelligence Agency to help them spy on users

Skype is co-operating more closely with  Intelligence Agency to help them spy on users. This is also red alert for hacker and companies private plans.  They all are under monitoring.

The online phone service, used by friends and families to keep in touch but also favoured by political dissidents and criminals, is making online chat and other user information available to police, according to The Washington Post.

Surveillance of the audio and video feeds remains impractical, even when courts issue warrants, industry officials told the newspaper.

But the changes, apparently in effect since late last year, allow police surveillance of online chats, Skype's instant messaging feature, as well as access to addresses and credit card numbers of users.

The Washington Post said U.S. officials have long pushed for greater access to online conversations to resolve what the FBI labels the 'going dark' problem.

They complain that Skype's encryption and other features made tracking drug lords, pedophiles and terrorists more difficult and police listening to traditional wiretaps have even heard suspects suggest 'let's talk on Skype' because it is more secure, The Post reports.

Law enforcement are thrilled by the changes to Skype, which was acquired by Microsoft, an organisation known for working closely with authorities, in May 2011 for $8.5 million, but activists are wary.

'The issue is, to what extent are our communications being purpose-built to make surveillance easy?' Lauren Weinstein, co-founder of People for Internet Responsibility, told The Post.

'When you make it easy to do, law enforcement is going to want to use it more and more. If you build it, they will come.'


Skype, which has 600 million users worldwide, said in a statement: 'As was true before the Microsoft acquisition, Skype cooperates with law enforcement agencies as is legally required and technically feasible.'

Skype calls connect computers directly rather than routing data through central servers, as many other Internet-based communication systems do, which makes it more difficult for police to intercept the call.

Some claim Skype loses its competitive edge in the crowded world of Internet-based communication if users no longer see it as more private than rivals.

'Skype used to be very special because it really was locked up,' an industry official told The Post. 'Now it’s like Superman without his powers.'

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