For years authorities reportedly complained that Skype’s encryption methods made it tough for them to track criminals.
Now they’re likely rejoicing as Skype has expanded its cooperation with authorities to make online chats and user information available to police, report Craig Timberg and Ellen Nakashima of the Washington Post, citing industry and government officials familiar with the changes.
Those changes came after Microsoft bought the company in May 2011. The next month the company applied for a patent for “legal intercept” of Skype and similar Internet-based voice and video systems, Computer World reported at the time.
Skype recently issued a statement that said: “As was true before the Microsoft acquisition, Skype cooperates with law enforcement agencies as is legally required and technically feasible.”
Skype – which has more than 600 million users – keeps personal information in its system for 30 days, but at least one instance shows authorities being able to get tons more information.
Federal investigators somehow gained access to five years worth of online conversations between Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and his colleagues without asking Skype for anything. It has been speculated that the government used spyware to obtain the files.
The Skype revelation comes on the heels of a report from Wired that revealed surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) was found “unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment” by the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) “on at least one occasion.”
The reports corroborate claims by NSA whistleblower William Binney that the U.S. government has been collecting data on nearly every U.S. citizens since the U.S. began working with telecommunications giants to gather electronic communications.
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