July 29th, 2012, 16:32 PM
Skype Denies System Upgrade Will Help Spy on Users
Skype denied that the Microsoft acquisition has allowed it to spy on users and record their calls, calling such accusations "false."
"In the last few days we have seen reports in the media we believe are inaccurate and could mislead the Skype community about our approach to user security and privacy," Mark Gillett, Skype's chief development and operations officer, wrote in a blog post. "I want to clear this up."
Gillett's blog post was prompted by a July 20 Slate story that said Skype refused to reveal whether it can eavesdrop on its users' conversations. The report suggested that Skype has long been "considered by most to be virtually impossible to intercept," a point of frustration for some law enforcement officials. But the article pointed to recent hacker chatter that said "supernode" upgrades to Skype's infrastructure would make it easier to snoop on peoples' chats.
After the story hit, Skype was somewhat tight-lipped, issuing a brief statement that said: "As was true before the Microsoft acquisition, Skype co-operates with law enforcement agencies as is legally required and technically feasible."
That, however, prompted reports of "Big Brother" Skype+Microsoft and questions about just how much the VoIP service knows about user activity, prompting Gillett's response.
According to Gillett, the network infrastructure updates are intended to improve performance, not spy on users.
"Skype was in the process of developing and moving supernodes to cloud servers significantly ahead of the Microsoft acquisition of Skype," he wrote. "Skype first deployed 'mega-supernodes' to the cloud to improve reliability of the Skype software and service in December 2010."
"The move was made in order to improve the Skype experience, primarily to improve the reliability of the platform and to increase the speed with which we can react to problems," Gillett continued. "The move also provides us with the ability to quickly introduce cool new features that allow for a fuller, richer communications experience in the future."
All Skype supernodes were moved to Microsoft's data centers earlier this year.
"The move to supernodes was not intended to facilitate greater law enforcement access to our users' communications," Gillett insisted.