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Do you think It’s time Microsoft-owned Skype to come clean on security and privacy practices?

As tech giant Microsoft is planning to switch its over 100 million users of Windows Live Messenger users to the voice-over-IP company Skype in mid-March. Windows Live Messenger service will be shut down on March 15.

A consortium of privacy and advocacy groups such as Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) along with individual academics, internet activists and entrepreneurs signed their names to an open letter to Microsoft ( Skype division president Tony Bates, Microsoft chief privacy officer Brendon Lynch and Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith) regarding web telephony service provider Skype transparency.

The letter — published today — called Microsoft out on the “persistently unclear and confusing statements about the confidentiality of Skype conversations,” and in particular, the “the access that governments and other third parties have to Skype user data and communications.”

You can find more detail here.

One of the concerns for users relates to TOM-Skype, a co-branded Chinese version of the voice-over-IP service – available only in China. Because of the co-branding, it looks, feels and behaves almost exactly like the U.S. version of Skype.

Skype—TOM, the China-only version that is offered by its joint-venture partner TOM contains a chat filter “in accordance with local law,” skype says.

Skype—TOM applies a text filter and automatically blocks messages deemed “unsuitable for delivery” it raises concern that users may not realize they are communicating through Chinese servers and protocols.

The group concludes the letter that for those who use Skype in particularly hostile areas of the world, “this data is vital to help us help Skype’s most vulnerable users, who rely on your software for the privacy of their communications and, in some cases, their lives.”

List of privacy and free expression groups:

List of individual academics, activists and entrepreneurs:

  • Collin D. Anderson
  • Carolyn Anhalt
  • Andrew Auernheimer
  • Paul Bernal, PhD
  • Luther Blissett
  • Griffin Boyce
  • Duncan Campbell
  • Luke De Carli
  • Samuel Carlisle
  • Brendan O’Connor
  • Mike Doherty
  • Sarah A. Downey, Esq.
  • Ryan Gallagher
  • Nariman Gharib
  • Stefan Geens
  • Dan Gillmor
  • Daniel Kahn Gillmor
  • David Goulet
  • Keith Hazelton
  • Anas Helali
  • Ralph Holz
  • Stewart Johnston
  • Nimrod S. Kerrett
  • Timur Khamitov
  • Nadim Kobeissi
  • Kate Krauss
  • Kody Leonard
  • Bryce A. Lynch
  • Tom Lowenthal
  • Jonas Mages
  • Jeremy Malcolm, PhD
  • Jun Matsushita
  • Sascha Meinrath
  • Nicholas Merrill
  • Ophelia Noor
  • Frederick Noronha
  • Greg Norcie
  • Brennan Novak
  • Dlshad Othman
  • Renata Avila Pinto
  • Fran Parker
  • Chip Pitts
  • Bruce Potter
  • Cooper Quintin
  • Sina Rabbani
  • Michael Rogers
  • Anne Roth
  • Amin Sabeti
  • Eleanor Saitta
  • Raman Saxena
  • Douglas Schuler
  • Kamal Sedra
  • Jonah Silas Sheridan
  • Murali Shanmugavelan, PhD
  • Alan Stewart
  • Bernard Tyers
  • Dmitri Usanov
  • Franklin S. Werren
  • Philipp Winter
  • Joss Wright, PhD
  • Tom Zhang (张拓木)


About the AuthorProfessional

Associate News Editor, worked in IT (Software) for over 10 years, in the outsourcing industry, product companies and web start-ups. She has operations management experience and has first-hand experience with project management, payroll and various other software programs designed for small and large business operations.

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