Skype has expanded its cooperation with law enforcement in the United States, making text chats and user information more available to police, according to a new report in the Washington Post.
Real-time audio and video surveillance remains “impractical,” the paper concluded, “but that barrier could eventually vanish as Skype becomes one of the world’s most popular forms of telecommunication.”
Many have blamed Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype in May 2011, and subsequent technical changesto the VoIP app’s architecture. Citing an anonymous source, The Post said that police surveillance of online chats “had been made since last year.”
Skype has not officially confirmed the timeline of the changes, although Microsoft filed for a patent in 2009 that would provide for a means of “legal intercept.” That patent was accepted and published in June 2011.
While Microsoft did not respond immediately to Ars, Skype provided a statement to the Post: “As was true before the Microsoft acquisition, Skype cooperates with law enforcement agencies as is legally required and technically feasible.”
Audio and video calls, of course, can be cracked simply by hacking one end of the conversation, which the Germany-based Chaos Computer Club claimed that German authorities have done via a trojan as of last year.
Slate reported just last week that Skype refuses to confirm or deny if it is able to eavesdrop on Skype audio calls.