Skype representatives have been summoned to appear in a court in Belgium, after the Microsoft-owned company refused to share customer data in relation to a criminal investigation in that country, a court spokesperson said.
A court in the city of Mechelen, north of Brussels, asked for information regarding messages and calls exchanged using Skype. It said that all telecom operators in the country were required to do so, Reuters reports (opens in new tab).
The question here is whether Skype can be seen as a telecom operator or not.
"The judicial question is whether Skype is also a telecoms operator," the court spokesman said, adding that Skype would have to pass on the data if this was established to be the case. It could also face a fine.
Skype was not immediately available for comment.
The news comes as Microsoft plans its appeal against a New York court ruling that would force it to give the US access to customer data stored in Dublin-based servers, ITPro says in a report (opens in new tab).
Ever since the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked thousands of documents showing the US government spying on its own citizens, as well as people and other governments all over the world, there has been increased pressure on both telecom operators and communications devices makers to protect the privacy of its users.
Both Apple and Google added a layer of encryption to its iOS and Android respectively, making sure the calls, as well as data from the devices, stay away from the government officials.
FBI officials said the government should allow (opens in new tab)backdoor access to smartphones and similar devices, as the encryption could work against it in the event of a terrorist attack.