Sunday, September 25, 2005

Skype security and privacy concerns

News that Skype has been bought by eBay has caused some concerns among privacy advocates, principally because eBay's policy of providing extensive user information to law enforcement, even without a warrant or subpoena. In his column in Security Focus, Scott Granneman writes:

Skype security and privacy concerns

"...I'm nearly speechless after reading Sullivan's comments. Think about what he's saying: if eBay receives a fax on offical letterhead (not that that would ever be faked, oh no) - just a simple fax, mind you, just a fax, unaccompanied by a court order - it will gladly fork over the following info about you, or any other eBay user:

  • Full name
  • User ID
  • Email address
  • Street address
  • State
  • City
  • ZIP code
  • Phone number
  • Country
  • Company
  • Password
  • Secondary phone number
  • Gender
  • Shipping information (including name, street address, city, state, ZIP)
  • Bidding history on an item
  • Items for sale
  • Feedback left about the user
  • Bidding history
  • Prices paid for items
  • Feedback rating
  • Chat room and bulletin board posts

Understatement of the week: that is one hell of a list! It's long, it's scary, and it's troubling. So what do we have? Software that says it's completely secure, but without a good way to verify that claim, now owned by a company that will basically give up an astonishing amount of personal information about you at the slightest peep from the authorities. This looks and smells bad. It's a questionable act to trust your personal and business phone calls, instant messages, and file transfers to Skype already, but it seems almost the height of foolhardiness to do the same now with a Skype owned by eBay...."

Thanks to Privacy Digest for the link.

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