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Skype denies spying accusations

Skype has denied accusations it has made changes to its infrastructure to help government officials spy on users. The Microsoft-owned instant message, phone, and video chat service has been heavily criticised over the past week over charges it’s colluding with law enforcement agencies to grant them access to users’ conversations.

But the company has fired back in a blog post penned by chief development and operations officer Mark Gillett, who insists that "[n]othing could be more contrary to the Skype philosophy."

Gillett refuted the allegations point-by-point, denying claims that the service has changed its position and policies regarding law enforcement, that it monitors and records members’ communications, that the company had ended its practice of protecting users’ conversations, and that system upgrades were implemented to make it easier for government officials to access user data.

Those accusations are all “false” he said. Rather, changes to Skype were designed to “improve user experience and reliability.” He pointed to the migration of its supernodes to its own data centres - meaning calls made through the service will be connected using in-house servers - as an example of an upgrade designed to make the user experience better.

While Skype saves instant messages for 30 days and addresses law enforcement requests when “where legally required and technically feasible,” making user communications available to authorities is not a part of that mandate, Gillett clarified.

The controversy comes after a strange, “rare” bug sent users’ IMs to unintended third-party contacts earlier in July.