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Skype denies system upgrade enables in-call spying

No snooping going on, company insists

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Skype has issued a formal denial to reports that it has been allowing law enforcement to listen in on users' calls following a change in its system architecture.

"Some media stories recently have suggested Skype may be acting improperly or based on ulterior motives against our users' interests. Nothing could be more contrary to the Skype philosophy," said Mark Gillett, Skype's chief development and operations officer in a blog post.

The allegations came after Skype reconfigured its system architecture so that some of the supernodes on its peer to peer network were moved inside Microsoft's data centers. This shift, coupled with a patent for "legal intercept" systems Microsoft was granted shortly after taking over the company, caused concern among some that Skype was selling out its users to the Feds.

Gillett categorically denied this was the case, saying that shifting the supernodes was begun before Microsoft bought out Skype, and that it is being done purely to improve service and make it more reliable and easier to upgrade in the future.

While Skype has had a policy of working with law enforcement on monitoring in exceptional circumstances he said, the rules of engagement for such a tactic are clearly stated on its website and Skype hasn’t changed its position. Calls are fully encrypted and information on users is not being kept.

"The enhancements we have been making to our software and infrastructure have been to improve user experience and reliability. Period," he said.

In El Reg's opinion, Skype appears to be talking sense on this. Shifting part of the VoIP provider's backbone into Microsoft data centers makes a lot of sense for Redmond, as it is looking to integrate Skype more deeply into its cloud offerings as it tries to make money on its $8.5bn purchase. ®

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