Microsoft Accused of Intercepting Skype Calls

Activists call for the company to release transparency reports

A group of privacy advocates, Internet activists and journalists have published an open letter to Skype, asking Microsoft to provide transparency reports, as more users had complained that their calls were being intercepted.

Basically, it all comes down to TOM-Skype, the Chinese version of the Microsoft VoIP platform that’s reportedly being used to tap a number of calls.

What’s more, even if it looks just like the original Skype software, the Chinese tool comes with several filters that block specific content, but also with some other technologies which are believed to be used for tapping calls over the Internet.

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is the fact that Skype could be used by the local government to record online conversations, even though there’s no evidence for that. That’s exactly why the privacy group is asking for transparency reports.

“We understand that the transition of ownership to Microsoft, and the corresponding shifts in jurisdiction and management, may have made some questions of lawful access, user data collection, and the degree of security of Skype communications temporarily difficult to authoritatively answer,” the letter reads.

“However, we believe that from the time of the original announcement of a merger in October 2011, and on the eve of Microsoft’s integration of Skype into many of its key software and services, the time has come for Microsoft to publicly document Skype’s security and privacy practices.”

The group then goes on to point out that Google, Twitter and some other companies have already released transparency reports, so Microsoft should do the same thing if it really cares about its users.

“It is unfortunate that these users, and those who advise them on best security practices, work in the face of persistently unclear and confusing statements about the confidentiality of Skype conversations, and in particular the access that governments and other third parties have to Skype user data and communications.”

Microsoft is yet to issue a public comment on this letter, but we’ll keep you posted.

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