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Microsoft Asked About Confidentiality of Skype User Data

By - Source: Reporters Without Borders | B 10 comments

Google, Twitter, and others provide transparency reports.

Software giant Microsoft is facing fresh pressure to reveal just how confidential Skype user data is.

Reporters Without Borders, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and 43 other campaign groups have signed a letter requesting the company provide an insight into what information is stored, as well as any government efforts to access that information.

It follows firms such as Google and Twitter providing transparency reports. Specifically, the former has told U.S. government agencies that it needs to obtain warrants before being granted access Gmail user data.

Microsoft has said that it will consider the aforementioned request made by campaign groups. "We are reviewing the letter," a spokeswoman told the BBC.

"Microsoft has an ongoing commitment to collaborate with advocates, industry partners and 2,112 governments worldwide to develop solutions and promote effective public policies that help protect people's online safety and privacy."

There are more than 600 million Skype users who utilize the service to make voice and video calls, among other functions. Microsoft is due to close down its Windows Live Messenger service in order to migrate all of its users to Skype.

Since Microsoft acquired Skype in 2011 for a fee of $8.5 billion, the letter alleges it's issued "persistently unclear and confusing" details on how confidential conversations on Skype are.

The campaign groups have asked Microsoft to provide some of the following details:

  1. Details of how many requests for data each country's government has made and the percentage that the firm complies with;
  2. Information about exactly what information Microsoft keeps itself;
  3. The firm's own analysis about the current ability of third-parties to intercept conversations; and
  4. The policy Microsoft staff has for dealing with disclosure requests.

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  • 1 Hide
    retrophe , January 28, 2013 2:37 PM
    I would like to see this as well. Microsoft would be wise to regularly release such info.
  • 3 Hide
    jhansonxi , January 28, 2013 3:01 PM
    If you want security then use a VOIP solution with a public protocol that supports encryption, like SIP or XMPP with TLS, and don't provide personal info that could be abused by third parties.
  • 0 Hide
    thecolorblue , January 28, 2013 3:34 PM
    full text transcripts of voice conversations...

    and they go here: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/

    Skype Backdoors:
    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/business/technology/120724/microsoft-hot-water-over-skype-spying-allegations
    http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-205_162-20118260.html
  • 0 Hide
    thecolorblue , January 28, 2013 3:36 PM
    Skype "is essentially a man-in-the-middle attack, and it is made all the easier because Microsoft -- who owns Skype and knows the keys used for the service's encryption -- is helping."
    http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch [...] llegations
  • 1 Hide
    thecolorblue , January 28, 2013 3:36 PM
    retropheI would like to see this as well. Microsoft would be wise to regularly release such info.

    if they released it people would stop using the service. :) 
  • 2 Hide
    DRosencraft , January 28, 2013 4:00 PM
    Really wish they were keeping Messenger separate from Skype. As it is now you either "upgrade" your messenger to Skype or it stops working come March. They also have a couple problems with Outlook 2013 with it being unable to connect to mailboxes. They've got work to do in this area of the business.
  • 0 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , January 28, 2013 4:38 PM
    live messenger was long overdue to get axed. Many people have moved away from messenger services in favor of social media like Facebook, twitter and VOIP's such as Skype which have pretty much killed messenger services. I used to have a lot of people signed in on my messenger but ever since the introduction of Facebook my live messenger looked like a ghost town, which is why i ended up removing my live messenger a couple years back from my pc. There was no point in having it if hardly anyone that i knew used it anymore. I like Skype i always had trouble with live messenger sending files since it as always cap out at 5kb upload and using the camera to talk to people via video was always skipping frames or the audio wasn't matching up with their mouth movements as if i was watching a native Japanese movie subtitled in English. Once i went to Skype all those problems went away. Plus if you like live messengers look all you have to do is switch it to the compact view and you have a separate window for your contact list and your chat much like how live messenger is. It's def worth a shot to check out if you don't already have Skype.
  • 2 Hide
    ethanolson , January 28, 2013 9:01 PM
    World Community:" Microsoft, how confidential and secure are the Skype user data?" [data is plural, yo!]

    Microsoft: "That information is confidential."

    World Community: "Your competitors make that information publicly available."

    Microsoft: "Then they're not being very confidential or secure, are they?!"

    World Community: "Oh... I didn't think about it that way. So, you still gonna dish the details?"

    Microsoft: "We'll need to get Obama's opinion on that first."

    World Community: "Obama's cool. So I guess this is all good? Sweet! Catch ya later"
  • 2 Hide
    ttcboy , January 29, 2013 12:54 AM
    What about Facebook ?? Does anyone ask the same to them before ??
  • 0 Hide
    ttcboy , January 29, 2013 12:55 AM
    What about Facebook ?? Does anyone ask before ??
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