Criminal Justice

Changes Reportedly Make Skype Chats More Accessible to Police

Police who obtain a court order will have greater ability to monitor online Skype chats because of changes made by its new owner, Microsoft.

Unnamed industry and government officials say technical upgrades made partly to address outages make possible greater cooperation with law enforcement, the Washington Post reports. Skype calls previously connected computers without the use of central servers, but some data is now routed through “supernodes.” Personal information and online chats are kept in Skype’s systems for 30 days.

According to the Post, “The changes, which give the authorities access to addresses and credit card numbers, have drawn quiet applause in law enforcement circles but hostility from many activists and analysts.”

In the United States, police surveillance of online chats requires a court order, but the rules in other nations may differ, the story says. Political dissidents as well as criminals have favored the service because authorities could not monitor their communications.

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