Skype may face criminal charges if it doesn’t let French Police listen in on Skype Calls

Skype may face criminal charges if it doesn’t let French Police listen in on Skype Calls

Skype wiretap

ARCEP, the French telecom authorities, have informed the Paris state prosecutor (the State Attorney) that, since Skype provides communication capabilities to French citizens, they must submit to the French law’s concerning electronic communications operator – one such law requires operators to allow the French Police to listen in on any calls. ARCEP, claims that Skype, whose European presence is governed by its Luxemburg-based office, has refused to declare itself as an electronic communications operator.

In its press release, ARCEP says that, while “not all of the solutions that Skype provides are electronic communications services… the service [] allows internet users located in France to call fixed and mobile numbers in France and around the world, using their computer or smartphone.” The notification states that, if Skype does not declare itself as an electronic communications operator, there may be criminal charges brought against the company.

The fact of providing a telephone service to the public, also implies compliance with certain obligations, which include the routing of emergency calls and implementing the means required to perform legally ordered interceptions.

Skype is not the first international company to be hit with some French government roadblocks. Twitter recently semi-succombed to France’s demand from anti-hate speech associations and the French government to have priority access to censor hate speech tweets and, notably, hashtags like #unbonjuif (“a good little jew”) and #simonfilsestgay (“if my son is gay”). Facebook as well had to remove its face recognition software that it was using to suggest tags on photos, as it was storing photos and identity information of users, which is not permitted in Europe due to privacy laws.

It is not clear what the French government can do to Skype, or whether Skype will submit to their request – there’s certainly an advantage for French users using Skype, who don’t wish to be tracked by the government; however, despite the fact that this announcement comes on the same day as a major pro-Net Neutrality proposal is making headlines in France, it seems that Skype may be Obliged, like Google, Twitter & Facebook have been recently, to play ball with the French government.

6 Responses

  1. ryannon

    Ah, the boring regularity of fines, lawsuits and endless regulation imposed on U.S. tech giants. Envy much?
    I wonder at what point it would financially advantageous for companies like Skype, Microsoft, Google, etc. to simply stop operating in France and/or the EU. Probably will never happen, but richly merited just the same.

    • eu

      I would not miss so much google or skype even if they quit EU market (what sounds impossible), there is other alternative for communicating (instead of skype) and google became just big machine for collecting information about everyone.
      French and other EU countries have these law because of history, it’s not US where everything is solved by guns.

    • paola medina

      And you know that’s the case in the US because you live there and you know everything about the country??

  2. Mark

    Sadly measures like this are not isolated to U.S. tech giants. Many of the EU states are working on stricter surveillance rules and some are putting those into action, which is placing pressure on everybody from ISPs to communication providers and software/hardware developers. Politicians in Europe seem intent upon an Orwellian approach to society, while at the same time criticising Iran, Syria, China and others for doing similar things!


  3. Dr. Juglaviche

    Inspector Clousseau has been promoted to Chief and assigned many members of his family to the case. French efficiency prevails.

  4. Joe

    You know, nothing says you can’t use more than one layer of encryption…

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