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Sunday, October 13, 2013

The NSA dragnet hauls in Skype

Russia Today

Luxembourg NSA dragnet hauls in Skype for investigation – report


Once heralded as a communication tool free from eavesdropping, Skype is now reportedly under scrutiny for secretly and voluntarily handing over personal data on users to government agencies.
The Microsoft-owned  instant-messaging site, used by some 600 million people  worldwide, is being probed by Luxembourg’s data protection  commissioner over concerns about its secret cooperation with the  US National Security Agency’s Prism spying program, according to  a report in the Guardian, the UK newspaper that first broke the  story on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Skype, believed to be the first Internet company among many to be  brought within the NSA program, could potentially face criminal  and administrative charges, as well as hefty fines if it is found  to be in violation of Luxembourg’s data protection laws.
If found guilty, Skype be banned from passing along user data to  the US spy agency, the newspaper reported.
The Luxembourg commissioner initiated an investigation into  Skype’s privacy policies following revelations in June about its  ties to the NSA, the Guardian said. No additional comments were  immediately available.
Microsoft’s purchase of Skype for $8.5 billion in 2011   “tripled some types of data flow to the NSA,” the Guardian  said, citing secret documents in its possession.
But even before the Microsoft buyout, Skype had initiated its own  secret program, dubbed Project Chess, which sought ways of making  customer communications “readily available to intelligence  agencies and law enforcement officials,” The New York Times   reported.
According to the NSA files shown by Snowden to the Guardian,  Skype was served with a directive to comply with an NSA  surveillance request signed by US Attorney General Eric Holder in  February 2011. Several days later, the NSA had successfully  monitored its first Skype transmission.
Skype, founded in Estonia in 2003 and now headquartered in  Luxembourg, is facing a public backlash in the wake of the Prism  disclosures.
“The only people who lose are users,” Eric King, head of  research at human rights group Privacy International, said in  comments to the Guardian. “Skype promoted itself as a  fantastic tool for secure communications around the world, but  quickly caved to government pressure and can no longer be trusted  to protect user privacy.”
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