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Microsoft Communications Privacy

Microsoft May Add Eavesdropping To Skype 218

An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a Microsoft patent application that reaches back to December 2009 and describes 'recording agents' to legally intercept VoIP phone calls. The 'Legal Intercept' patent application is one of Microsoft's more elaborate and detailed patent papers, which is comprehensive enough to make you think twice about the use of VoIP audio and video communications. The document provides Microsoft's idea about the nature, positioning and feature set of recording agents that silently record the communication between two or more parties."
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Microsoft May Add Eavesdropping To Skype

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  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday June 27, 2011 @12:26PM (#36585314) Homepage

    Worse, they'll probably put eavesdropping in the audio path of the PC (where the DRM is now), so that no crypto software on the client end can bypass it.

  • Wow .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday June 27, 2011 @12:31PM (#36585404) Homepage

    So, when they install tools for our government to spy on us, it's supposed to be a good thing.

    And when they do it to help other governments we don't agree with, it's an enemy to democracy and helping to undermine the ability of peaceful protest.

    Love the double standard inherent in this. Maybe we can use the stuff the US is working on to stealthily deploy an internet in places to get around 'oppressive regimes' to prevent wholesale, un-tracked monitoring of our communications.

    Oh, right, if you call yourselves the good guys, it's all OK. But, make no mistake about it ... this will help the 'Bad Guys' as much as it will help the 'Good Guys' ... China wants to listen to your VOIP too.

  • by OeLeWaPpErKe ( 412765 ) on Monday June 27, 2011 @12:36PM (#36585492) Homepage

    So yes, it implements intercept. Obviously. Just try to sell a VOIP PBX to an operator without intercept.

    I would be amazed if skype didn't implement intercept yet.

  • Re:GNU VoIP (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Monday June 27, 2011 @12:38PM (#36585514) Journal

    What ever happened to PGPfone? That's what we need a GNU equivalent for.

  • by Dwedit ( 232252 ) on Monday June 27, 2011 @12:39PM (#36585538) Homepage

    Yes, let's encrypt some audio before running it through Lossy Compression, and hope that we can get some recognizable signal afterwards.

  • Re:Think Twice? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday June 27, 2011 @12:45PM (#36585660) Homepage

    This is really is one of those situations that if you aren't doing anything illegal don't worry about it and if you do worry about it find another tool.

    This is the most damaging and poorly thought out sentiments that I hear of late ...

    If you're not doing anything wrong, don't worry, citizen. Only the guilty need privacy. Only criminals use encryption. Upstanding people don't have secrets. We have to know everything to prevent thought crimes. We know what's best. Fuck that.

    Deciding that we have no expectation of privacy is a dumb idea. Deciding that only people who are doing something shady try to guard their privacy is completely wrong-headed. You start out with fourth amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. In theory, there is supposed to be warrants and judicial oversight to keep this in check. Lately, the trend has been to side-step all of that stuff.

    There are lots of legitimate reasons why someone would expect to keep some things private ... and taking those away under is a horrible idea.

    Why is everybody so damned willing to live in a surveillance society? This makes no friggin' sense to me whatsoever. And every time I hear someone saying that if I'm not a criminal I shouldn't expect privacy I just want to scream at the sheer madness of that statement.

  • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Monday June 27, 2011 @12:59PM (#36585870)

    The problem with audio stream encryption is that it will be before the compression codec. When you feed uncompressed but encrypted audio into the skype codec expecting voice it either wont' be able to compress it enough to send, or very bad things will happen to the signal and it probably can't be decrypted. If you try compressing it first, then you are still screwed when you try to decrypt it.

    In the 80's when CB radio took off people tried building encryptors for that but it pissed the feds off and they got shut down.

  • I would be amazed if skype didn't implement intercept yet.

    This. Anyone who assumed in the first place that a service accessed with a closed-source app with a secret encryption scheme going through a bunch of servers you don't control was secure is an idiot.

  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Monday June 27, 2011 @01:03PM (#36585946) Journal

    Or instead of adding this Rube Goldberg contraption on top of Skype, just use any free and open VoIP protocol that already supports encryption. There are plenty to choose from.

"Never give in. Never give in. Never. Never. Never." -- Winston Churchill