Skype recently began furthering its cooperation with various law enforcement agencies, making chat transcripts and users’ addresses and credit card information more easily available to police, according to several anonymous government and industry officials contacted by the Washington Post. The service, which was founded on a policy of resistance to Big Brother’s monitoring, began making changes to its chat system after being acquired by Microsoft last year.
Obviously, this is fucked on several levels.
The most glaring is the simple fact that they’re taking what was ostensibly a private form of communication and opening it up to law enforcement. In the U.S., monitoring Skype chats and information still requires a court order, but the laws vary abroad–including in the Middle East, where dissidents used Skype as a means of communication during Arab Spring protests, as WaPo points out.
Secondly, if your address and credit card information are made more easily accessible to the police, there’s no reason to believe they’re not more accessible to other, more potentially malicious entities as well.
Fortunately, accessing Skype audio and video is still too logistically complex to be practical for law enforcement, according to WaPo’s sources, though they note that that might not be the case for long. Your Skype calls are fine for now, but if you’d like to keep the cops off your back, stay off of chat.