Cyber Security

How Skype developed a secret program called ‘Project Chess’ to make it easier for law enforcement and government officials to spy on customers’ data

 

By  Hayley Peterson

PUBLISHED: 09:56 EST, 21  June 2013 |  UPDATED: 09:56 EST, 21 June 2013

The web-based calling service Skype allegedly  developed a secret program called ‘Project Chess’ to make it easier for the  government to spy on its users. 

The program, set up about five years ago,  studied the legal and technical issues in making Skype’s calls available to law  enforcement officials, according to the New York  Times.

Skype has also reportedly been involved in  the Prism program since February 2011. Prism is the National Security  Agency’s  Internet data-collection program that was exposed by former  security contractor Edward Snowden.

 
The web-based calling service Skype allegedly developed a secret program called 'Project Chess' to make it easier for the government to spy on its users

 

The web-based calling service Skype allegedly developed  a secret program called ‘Project Chess’ to make it easier for the government to  spy on its users

The Washington Post reported earlier this  month that the NSA has a ‘User’s Guide for PRISM Skype Collection’ that outlines  how it can eavesdrop on any combination of Skype ‘audio, video, chat, and file  transfers.’

The start of ‘Project Chess’ predates Skype’s  acquisition by Microsoft in October 2011.

 

 

Both companies have come under fire in recent  weeks for their alleged involvement in the Prism program, which Snowden claims  gave the NSA ‘direct’ access to their serves and those of other Silicon Valley  giants including Facebook and Google. 

Skype has denied previous reports that it  made changes in its architecture to provide law enforcement with greater access  to users’ communications.

 
The start of 'Project Chess' predates Skype's acquisition by Microsoft in October 2011

 

The start of ‘Project Chess’ predates Skype’s  acquisition by Microsoft in October 2011

‘Some media stories recently have suggested  Skype may be acting improperly or based on ulterior motives against our users’  interests,’ Mark Gillett, vice president of Microsoft’s Skype division, said in  a blog post last year. ‘Nothing could be more contrary to the Skype  philosophy.’

But Gillett added that under some  circumstances, Skype would provide law enforcement with user chat and call  data.

‘If a law enforcement entity follows the  appropriate procedures and we are asked to access messages stored temporarily on  our servers, we will do so,’ Gillett wrote. ‘I must reiterate we

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