Skype encryption and surveillance

German police are unable to decrypt Skype, but rather than asking the company to provide keys to decrypt the transmissions, or implement a backdoor, they are seeking to intercept communication before they are encrypted:

“We can’t decipher it. That’s why we’re talking about source telecommunication surveillance — that is, getting to the source before encryption or after it’s been decrypted.”…

Ziercke said there was a vital need for German law enforcement agencies to have the ability to conduct on-line searches of computer hard drives of suspected terrorists using “Trojan horse” spyware.

Trojaning the computer, however, does allow for much more surveillance than just Skype communications. In many respects these are not technology issues but policy issues. See, for example, the privacy issues with the US carnivore/dcs1000 and the increased concern now that they’ve switched to private, commercial applications.

This also raises some interesting questions with regard to Skype and China. While the text message is filtered — although I could only find one censored word, fuck, when I checked it out — I’m not convinced this supports the allegations of surveillance.

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