As Salon notes in “Skype sells out to China“, the eBay-owned service has collaborated with a Chinese company to enable spying on the allegedly encrypted messages that Skype users send each other to and from, and within, China. This disgusting sellout should surprise no one.
Skype and its corporate parent, eBay, have been evasive about whether the product is truly secure. There’s ample reason — including this admission attributed to an Austrian law-enforcement agency — to suspect that the company has created backdoors for police.
Skype, for its part, has never outright denied that it has done so. Nor has it shown its encryption algorithms in an open way to outside experts for verification and analysis. I take this as an admission that you can’t trust Skype’s encryption, period.
This is important to citizen-media people for several reasons. First, plenty of regimes make it downright dangerous to indulge in truly free speech. Skype has been a favored tool for many people who believed the built-in encryption somehow would protect them.
Second, it’s another example of the way companies from the West collaborate with the globe’s most dictatorial regimes — and it makes abundantly clear that we need an open-source communications toolset that we can trust.
Skype is better than no encryption at all. But do not imagine for a minute that you can fully trust this company, because you can’t.