Thursday, June 20, 2013

Microsoft's Skype and NSA Privacy Concerns

It seems clear to me that the restructuring of Skype's network (no longer purely peer-to-peer) has made two major changes in respect to privacy.  
1.  The first is that with respect to all its services, a detailed record of who is communicating with whom is now kept, and clearly it is being shared.  Before Microsoft, back when Skype was purely a peer-to-peer service, I don't believe they kept those records except in the aggregate.   
2.  The second is that with respect to text communication, it now appears that a copy is retained on Skype servers... because this is the way they can guarantee delivery to those that are offline at the time text is sent.  I still don't think Skype is retaining a copy of the encryption keys, but the very fact that they could potentially hand over a copy of the encrypted text is alarming.  Nobody knows how well encrypted it is because Skype has kept that a secret.
_________________________

From Mashable:

Skype Considered Government Requests With Project Chess




Skype
Skype had a secret program to determine ways it could technically and legally cooperate with government requests for users' content, according to a report.
The program, "Project Chess," began five years ago — well before Microsoft purchased Skype for $8.5 billion in 2011, according to the New York Times.
SEE ALSO: Can Skype Eavesdrop on Your Calls?
Per the report, a dozen Skype employees were involved in Project Chess, which was created to overcome internal division over how best to handle the government's user information requests.
It's not clear whether Project Chess immediately resulted in a program enabling the government to access Skype users' calls or chats. According to the PRISM Internet surveillance documents leaked by Edward Snowden, Skype joined that program in 2011 — just months before Microsoft bought the company.
A Microsoft spokesperson did not immediately return Mashable's request for comment.
Skype's history with government requests is complicated. The service has long been considered a safer way for users to discuss sensitive information than traditional telecom providers, which have a long history of cooperating with law enforcement and intelligence agencies. However,
Skype has legally been subject to government wiretaps under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) since VoIP services were included in a 2006 update to that act.
After the updates to CALEA, Skype claimed its encryption and peer-to-peer architecture made it impossible to wiretap. However, a post-Microsoft change to Skype's architecture last year led to hackers alleging that 
Microsoft was opening a door for legal government interception of users' calls. While Microsoft was mum at first, it was eventually forced topublicly deny those accusations.
Should Skype be trusted for calls that users want kept confidential? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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    En los últimos meses, las marcas jóvenes están marcando el paso. Gozan de liderazgos potentes -Iglesias y Rivera- y votantes que les publicitan. Declarar el voto a uno de los dos nuevos conlleva el placer añadido de soltar una coz a los tradicionales. Conscientes de la situación, candidatos como Ángel Gabilondo han pillado al vuelo que la marca blanca es un activo. El manifiesto Sí a Gabilondo, con el que 300 intelectuales respaldan su candidatura a la comunidad de Madrid incidiendo en su independencia, es una muestra. El director creativo y fundador de la agencia de publicidad Sra. Rushmore, responsable de la campaña más innovadora de Zapatero, tiene claro que “es difícil luchar contra la fuerza del voto ilusionante, por eso se cacarea tanto. Hay dos partidos nuevos que hacen que la gente exprese su apoyo sin necesidad de preguntar. Lo que no va a funcionar igual es ocultar la marca, porque los candidatos están irremediablemente asociados a sus siglas”.



    “La imagen del PP es tan potente, que por mucho que lo intenten algunos, es complicado jugar a ocultarla con éxito”, reflexiona el diputado popular Gabriel Elorriaga sobre los intentos de ciertos colegas de tomar distancia de lo que representa Génova. Y es que la confirmación de Rajoy de que volverá a ser candidato ha puesto aún más nerviosos a los que se examinan en mayo. “La ventaja del PSOE respecto al PP es que ya hemos afrontado la renovación del discurso y de las caras, pero en el PP no lo han hecho todavía, y la intervención de Rajoy diciendo que se presenta no hace más que aplazar la renovación pendiente”, dice Soraya Rodríguez, ex portavoz del PSOE.



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