Ryan Gallagher at Slate's Future Tense blog asks whether Skype can intercept VOIP conversations and whether they provide such content to law enforcement. What's more troubling is how evasive Microsoft/Skype appears to be when asked a direct question:
But when I repeatedly questioned the company on Wednesday whether it could currently facilitate wiretap requests, a clear answer was not forthcoming. Citing “company policy,” Skype PR man Chaim Haas wouldn’t confirm or deny, telling me only that the chat service “co-operates with law enforcement agencies as much as is legally and technically possible.”
Note the use of "lawfully requesting such information". There's a very real difference between a lawful request and a lawful demand. We have in our Canadian Criminal Code the following section:
Power of peace officer
487.014 (1) For greater certainty, no production order is necessary for a peace officer or public officer enforcing or administering this or any other Act of Parliament to ask a person to voluntarily provide to the officer documents, data or information that the person is not prohibited by law from disclosing.
In Canada, the police are permitted to ask, lawfully, in circumstances where they have no court order or production order, and therefore can't legally compel the information. (As an aside, I have seen on many, many occasions in my practice "request letters" from law enforcement that use this section as their "lawful authority" to demand information from service providers. Most service providers read this as a legally-enforceable demand that can't be declined.)
Skype isn't alone in this .... many other privacy policies use this sort of language which reserves to the operator the discretion of whether they'll require legal process that compels the production of information.
Transparency/clarity = good. Weasel words = bad.