HOME     MENU     SEARCH     NEWSLETTER    
NEWS & INFORMATION FOR TECHNOLOGY PURCHASERS. UPDATED 14 MINUTES AGO.
You are here: Home / After Hours / Murky Picture on Skype Monitoring
Neustar, Inc.
Protect your website & network using real-time information & analysis
www.neustar.biz
A Murky Picture on Skype Monitoring
A Murky Picture on Skype Monitoring
By Adam Dickter / NewsFactor Network Like this on Facebook Tweet this Link thison Linkedin Link this on Google Plus
PUBLISHED:
JULY
24
2012



Not bad enough that Facebook keeps all your photos and data and Google has a record of all your sensitive Internet searches.

Now comes word that the late-night Skype video chat you had with your long-distance significant other might live on in the servers of Microsoft.

'Silent Recording'

The software giant bought the Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol application, founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, last year for $8.5 billion and, as noted by Slate magazine in an article this week, Microsoft around the same time was granted a patent, first requested in January 2009, for "silently recording communications."

The technology's effect, according to the patent summary, is that "data associated with a request to establish a communication is modified to cause the communication to be established via a path that includes a recording agent."

Microsoft didn't definitively answer Slate's request for clarification on whether Skype's new technology would facilitate a request from law enforcement for wiretapping, and a company spokeswoman did not respond to our inquiry in time for publication.

The federal Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, passed by Congress in 1994, requires that U.S. communications companies modify their systems to facilitate monitoring to enable real-time surveillance by authorities when granted permission by courts.

"I think people should assume they are being monitored regardless of their activity," said technology consultant Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group. "The (2001) Patriot Act gave government broad powers with regard to network and phone monitoring. CALEA preceded the Patriot Act and was expanded last decade to bring it in line with it."

A New Era

"The war on terror has had two major casualties: due process, and personal privacy," Enderle said. "If anyone thinks anything they do on a network or over a phone line is private, they are living about a decade in the past."

Skype is enormously popular, with at least 663 million users as of last year, since the basic service -- communications via webcam on computers -- is free. Skype makes its profit -- $860 million in 2011 -- from premium services, allowing chats with multiple users and VOIP calls to phones and mobile phones. The premium service is $4.99 per month based on a 12-month plan.

Both Research In Motion, maker of BlackBerry devices and their messaging system, and Twitter have been compelled to turn over information to law enforcement agencies recently to aid in the investigation of criminal activity during protest movements in the U.S. and U.K.

The Skype division of Microsoft is based in Luxembourg.

Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, said one gray area regards a U.S. communications company's obligation if a request for monitoring "came from a foreign government or if it involved monitoring calls where one or more callers were not in the U.S."

"So far as CALEA goes, it seems to have followed the course of similar past surveillance laws -- instituted for what seemed like mostly positive reasons but executed in ways that tended toward the negative."

Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

Name:

Like Us on FacebookFollow Us on Twitter
TOP STORIES NOW
MAY INTEREST YOU
ISACA® offers a global community of more than 115,000 IS/IT constituents in over 180 countries. We develop and deliver industry-leading certifications, education, research and business frameworks. We equip individuals to be leaders in the fast-changing world of information systems and IT - Learn More>
MORE IN AFTER HOURS
Product Information and Resources for Technology You Can Use To Boost Your Business

NETWORK SECURITY SPOTLIGHT
Sony is no stranger to breaches. Sony’s PlayStation Network was hacked in 2011 and attackers obtained 77 million user accounts. The latest attack comes against Sony Pictures Entertainment.

ENTERPRISE HARDWARE SPOTLIGHT
Chinese computer maker Lenovo got creative with the marketing campaign around its Yoga 3 Pro. Lenovo hired the Upright Citizens Brigade, a comic troupe, to help drum up visibility for its new device.

MOBILE TECHNOLOGY SPOTLIGHT
In its bid for the wearables market, Sony is reportedly developing a watch made out of electronic paper for release as soon as next year. The e-paper watch will emphasize style over tech innovations.

© Copyright 2014 NewsFactor Network, Inc. All rights reserved. Member of Accuserve Ad Network.