back to article Microsoft patent points to Skype snooping

A new Microsoft patent points towards Skype becoming equipped for lawful interception, which could be important as the service grows up to challenge traditional telcos. The patent was filed back in 2009, but published* last week and picked up by Computerworld. Titled "Legal Intercept", it covers one way in which a VoIP-based …

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Anonymous Coward

Install - Uninstall

Nothing to hide and nothing to fear, but I installed this morning and uninstalled this evening on the strength of reading this article.

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Silver badge

Governments DO NOT have the right to monitor calls

Especially not the ones who are most eager for the ability to do so. As for petitioning the government, that's a laugh. That'll get you exactly nowhere.

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wim

will get you somewhere

probably on a government list. The list of the "to be watched" people.

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Silver badge

Meh

I'm probably already on several of those lists thanks to my persistant anti-idiotarian atitude (which, naturally, gets misinterpreted as antiauthoritarian these days) and my outspoken belief that the government has a disturbing habit of ignoring the law whenever it wants.

Thankfully freedom of speech isn't one of the freedoms under attack here in the US, so I'm in no danger of being jailed. Yet.

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WTF?

"listening in ... why do you think they would bother with you or me"

and

"Resources are tight so do not waste them on a wild scatter gun method."

and maybe others too...

If that's what you really believe, perhaps you can explain why ACPO Ltd were recently exposed as having been running undercover police for several years infiltrating perfectly legitimate peaceful protest organisations. While "resources are tight".

That surely wouldn't have happened "without due cause" would it?

Well it did, and the copper in one particular case finally decided there wasn't due cause, and when he did so the show trial of a few dozen innocent people had to be abandoned before it started.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12382578 and many many others

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Silver badge

New architecure

I wonder whether Skype's move to a new SuperNode structure has anything to do with plans for "lawful" intercept. I would have thought that a widely distributed model would make it much more difficult. On the other hand there new architecture doesn't seem to be working half as well as their old one. I now frequently see inconsistencies in Skype's reporting of online/offline states.

The problem, as others have pointed out, with this type of digital interception is that anyone could then use it. With a conventional POTS system, the signal goes from your house to the phone exchange. Follows the phone companies links to the remote end and goes down the wire the calls recipients. The intercept has to take place somewhere in this route. Sure if a crim wants to tap they can go to the green box in the street and hook into your circuit. But they need to get off their arse and doing this.

With this new scheme, a crim anywhere in the world could potentially hit the buttons which would then turn on the interception of my packets.

Also if I'm in the UK, the POTS system the legal intercept to another user in the UK would require the active connivance of the either BT or the UK gov (both fairly untrustworthy, but there none the less). What safe guards could be put in place to prevent say the Chinese gov turning on the intercept of users in other parts of the world.

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Linux

Speak for Yourself Dickless Hack Wannabee

Sure, you are a worthless hack with wannabee dreams of breaking into TV journalism, so you will take whatever the man rams up your backside.

A few with more spine see this for what it is, Fascism at its worst. Give up your liberty for security, NEVER!

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Anonymous Coward

"Chinese gov turning on the intercept "

Which is why some countries won't have Huawei in their telecom infrastructure.

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Big Brother

Skype backdoor

Skype representatives have been asked multiple times to confirm/deny that there is a backdoor in the algorithm. They haven't confirmed nor denied it and have always deflected the question. So I would think it is safe to say they can eavesdrop on you if they wanted to.

Now ask yourself if the CIA visited them and asked for BinLadens conversation would they (Skype) have facilitated it. My vote says they have. Probably on very rare occasions but I think they have already used the backdoor .

This is all speculation of course.

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FAIL

Another duff patent

"If you copy VoIP data then you can listen in to it" is hardly what I'd call a ground-breaking invention.

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Anonymous Coward

No, no, no, no, no!

"Most of us accept that security forces need to occasionally tap into phone lines, hopefully with suitable judicial oversight."

Then "most of us" are fucking stupid. End of story.

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rav
Thumb Up

Microsoft wants to retire the patent!

Microsoft bought Skype to create a P2P secure communications system based on Windows. This latest patent acquisition was done to retire the patent to keep it out of play. That way no-one else can do it either.

Also owning the patent allows Microsoft a leg up and developing security against it. And owning the patent for snooping means lawsuits against those who create other snooping software!

The point?

Blackberry is failing largely because foreign governments hate it for the same reason that Corporations love it. Secure communications.

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Paris Hilton

Skype® Backdoor Intercept: Roger. Firsthand.

This stems from pre-2008 Crash Day, when Mr. Christopher Story FRSA of worldreports.org was alive, well, and informing any and all who gave a shite re the Royal Scam, the Instruments Thereof, that telltale Giant Sucking Sound and that entire globalized 'n' criminally IT-driven Monetary+Financial operation's all-too-obvious+inevitable trickle-down+bubble-out+hoover-up Crashing Finale. This one did indeed pass the word in detail, necessarily uttering many oft-repeated unique keywords (such as "Bush", "Derivatives", "Merkel", "Banking Cartel", "Rothschild", "City of London", "The Crown" etc etc etc.) while so doing.

Odd indeed, how such a call would be reliably cut off (necessitating a dialback) once one started-in with these and similar on-topic utterances. Boringly predictable, really. Ninesey/'Levvensey Controlled Demolition+Mass Murder kerfluffle convos samesame: Different keywords, same cutoff... Nearly two years of this interference ensued - always via "Secure" Skype®.

I say no more re the Palestinian Situation in this context. (Surely, Gentle Reader, by now you get it.) FWIW: One savvy friend, in a casual face-to-face several months back, did mention Mossadim, Exactly Once. So Go Figger.

Net effect: After a few months of faithful verbal boil-um-down relay-reporting of the Latest Developments, the regular pattern of cutoffs actually served to convince a number of skeptical, basically receptive albeit deeply media-driven parties on the Other End that there really just might actually *be* something to the things being told them. (Hearts 'n' minds, hearts 'n' minds...)

For this one's part, frankly, I just plain Got Bloody Sassy. Started succinctly calling the Überschnoopenfuehrer Squad listeners-in out in spades, re their having so clearly sold-out their own humanity for the sake of Bloody Mammon - which, imvh&experienced_o, is in fact the case. (The Eight-Second Soundbyte can be a Devastating Thing when composed with care...)

Because inside jobs deserve exposure, is why. Because it was always all about the criminality and nothing to do with any politics (but for the Politics of Globalized Criminality), is why. Because it is better to accept a little insecurity in the course of ones' life than ever it was to abjectly surrender any part of ones' hard-won liberty, is why. Personal, national samesame imvh&experienced_o.

Because they have always hated our freedoms. Ergo Magna Carta, habeas corpus (R.I.P.), US Declaration of Independence etc etc etc. Consent of the Governed and all. (/Capice/, /paisan'/?)

Paris, because without Genuine Liberty and her handmaiden Actual Privacy all the Rest of Us are just soooo reliably 'n' predictably top-down hijack'd, raped 'n' skroo'd, is why.

Item: History may not in fact repeat itself - but it sure does rhyme. And that is all! 0{:-|o<

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FAIL

Hrm...

Interesting way to bugger up the competition - if governments demand "line-tapping" capabilities and you've got the patent on it, then you can deny competitors access. So, they're either barred from operating by the government (because they can't line tap) or break patent law...

The absurdity of software patent law is another argument entirely, of course...

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@AC 00:46

>>"If that's what you really believe, perhaps you can explain why ACPO Ltd were recently exposed as having been running undercover police for several years infiltrating perfectly legitimate peaceful protest organisations. While "resources are tight".

>>That surely wouldn't have happened "without due cause" would it?

>>Well it did, and the copper in one particular case finally decided there wasn't due cause, and when he did so the show trial of a few dozen innocent people had to be abandoned before it started.

Surely the point there was that among the organisations he was getting information, there were members who did actually do things which were illegal, even if it seems that generally the worst was things like violent protests.

Clearly, there's a whole grey area about people acting as agents provocateurs, but it does seem like he was doing rather more in his years undercover than just hanging out with one group who occasionally protested outside power stations.

And on the practical side (again, leaving aside the 'Man Who Was Thursday' angle), if he and hence the state had feelers in all kinds of protest groups /but those groups carried on existing, and seemingly doing largely what they would have done anyway/, how crushing *was* the boot of Big Brother actually being?

Maybe the point of the infiltration was to try and make sure that there would be advance notice if things started getting a bit too heavy?

If there is the potential for one or other protest group to get a bit crazy, having some kind of idea what's going on isn't necessarily hideously oppressive.

At first glance, it looks like a huge amount of money to spend on undercover police, but just stopping and thinking about it, if they could give information about likely trouble at one or other demonstration that's more accurate than the police would have otherwise, there's at least the *potential* for getting police numbers right, and either saving money by not having too many, or preventing small disturbances escalating into a riot, so it might not be quite as daft/wasteful/oppressive as it would at first appear.

The tricky thing is in that kind of logic is knowing what would have happened with different police numbers at a given event.

If it seems that numbers were about right - fewer police and little trouble, or more police who manage to contain a decent amount of troublemaking, that could be seen as evidence in favour of undercover work.

If there's a report of likely trouble but then nothing happens when there are lots of police drafted in, it's easy to think that was disaster averted and people changing plans due to the police presence, rather than bum information, and see it as evidence in favour of undercover work.

Likewise, if there are reports suggesting little trouble but it does happen, that could be taken as evidence suggesting that /more/ undercover work is needed.

Once started, it's easy for someone convinced it's a good idea to see little reason to change their mind, whatever happens.

But ultimately, how far does my right to privacy go?

Does it seriously extend to cover all my activities, even those undertaken with large numbers of other people, and even when some of my actions or their actions may go beyond what's legal?

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