Skype an open book for Big Brother?


The Internet service Skype is ready to share a part of its information about its users with the FSB {Federal Security Service), a Skype representative Arseny Rastorguyev has said.

“Some details can be disclosed, some not. Cooperation with the enforcement bodies will take place to the degree that is technically and legally possible”, he is reported as having said.  He said that there needed to be correct legal procedure and not simply a request by telephone.

The website Грани reports that FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov said earlier that the FSB would have “working contacts” with Google, Skype and “other members of the Internet community”. He added that contact with mobile telephone providers on Russian territory is already in place. He said that the FSB has the right and must have access to the encryption codes of mobile operators “in order to monitor, taking into account emerging data, possible unlawful actions by specific persons”.

As reported , the FSB has already shown an unhealthy interest in Skype, Gmail and Hotmail for the same reasons that they are preferred by all those, including dissidents, who do not want  their communications tapped.  In April the head of the FSB Centre for Information Protection and Special Communications, Alexander Andreyechkin said that “the problem of using general cryptographic encryption – first and foremost, of foreign origin – in the networks has caused increasing concern for the FSB”, and said that Gmail, Hotmail and Skype were of particular concern.  There was immediate outcry and backtracking, although Putin’s Press Secretary stated that the FSB representative, in calling Skype and Gmail a threat to national security had not expressed his personal opinion, but the “thoroughly substantiated” position of the FSB.  On 20 April however Putin himself stated that he did not see it as possible to introduce any restrictions on the Internet.

See the view of Andrei Soldatov, well-known specialist on security service activities who warns that the FSB’s position is absolutely clear and they have no intention of tolerating any hitches to full access.

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