back to article Anti-mafia cops want Skype tapping

A European Union agency is investigating how to snoop on crooks using Skype and other Voice over Internet Protocol services to avoid traditional police wiretaps. Eurojust, the EU agency dealing with judicial co-operation, is to coordinate the investigation into Voip services, such as Skype, after requests from the Direzione …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did you see this...

    Myself I'd like civil protections put in place first. If EU wants to unify anything it should start from the basis that it is there to serve the people and the people must be protected, even from overzealous rozzers. Start unifying that first.

    Sorry, but seeing that the UK can't even protect MPs trying to report malfeasance in the government from being arrested! I think we need a dose of civil liberties *first* and *urgently* before we start building any more hi tech surveillance/control mechanism.

    It's oppressive that this officer equates 'extreme right wing' and 'extreme left wing' elements with violence. He should be investigating violence, not investigating all groups on the assumption they MAY be violent. For all the shit he talks, the most violent extremist group that often start violence on nothing more than a 'you can't walk down this street' wear uniforms and carry tasers.

    I really don't like seeing people clubbed for trying to protest to Parliament, as if that's some sort of crime, or zapped for protesting outside of an embassy. The violence there is the zapping or clubbing. They should be entitled to protest, entitled to lobby, entitled to sway opinion without rozzers treating them as likely criminals.

  2. Wokstation

    So they dump a virus or crack the encryption... the crim just cleans the virus, or heaven forbid runs Linux... and changes the algorythm.

    Welcome to the next internet security arms race.

  3. Jimmy Floyd
    Black Helicopters


    History doesn't repeat; it echoes.

    We saw the understandable introduction of forms of internet censorship to combat child pornography. Fair enough. Trouble is, once you develop that power it's impossible to resist the temptation to apply it in other areas (as Eircom customers are finding out - So if you allow the state to spy on you for justifiable reasons, you unwittingly allow it the ability to conduct similar activities on a more dubious rationale.

    Clearly, neither total censorship nor unrestrained communication is the answer. But in between the two lies a mass of double-bluff and vague promises. Without clear boundaries it's impossible to find, let alone maintain, a status-quo.

    Tricky; very tricky.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Take the music industry solutions:

    If they take the music industry as an example, the way to solve their current problem would be to ensure that all ISPs ban skype and other VoIP calls... they can be used for illegal purposes so they MUST be banned.

    Normally, this would be a joke!

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Wiretaps ?

    Most legal wiretaps need a judge to authorise it. How do you explain to a judge you want to wiretap the internet to catch one bad guy ?

    Or do the police expect to illegally eavesdrop on everyone, just incase someone is doing something naughty ?

    Civil liberties - they're in my pocket as I leave the internet....

  6. amanfromMars Silver badge
    Jobs Horns

    Transparent Windows* .... for Peeping Major Toms and IP Theft Pending Future Patents?

    One imagines then that MS/Yahoo Messenger services are an Open Book to them then, as they are not cited in the same Breath?

    And only questions because it is something always to be guarded against falling foul of and giving away the Master Key to any Program.

    * Open Portals?

  7. David Hicks

    Worried that crooks are going to use skype...


    Trust your highly confidential and illegal comms to a third party with unknown, proprietary encryption and an unknown route.

    Set up Asterisk at two points, tunnel it through a secure connection (OpenSSH would likely do) and voila, no eavesdropping possible without actually breaking the well-tested real crypto.

    Not that I want to aid and abet criminals, but this focus on one technology, skype, is just downright stupid and easily circumvented by anyone that has half a technological brain.

    Tux, because using a penguin based system will get you all this stuff for free.

  8. Adam Foxton


    give them 20 minutes and they'll find a way of communicating without surveilance again. Like, ooh, VOIP over a VPN? Not using Skype but some sort of point-to-point encrypted protocol? Half-Duplex comms where they create an MP3 of what their message is, zip it, encrypt it, hide the encrypted file away inside a video of their dog playing with cousin Mario. It'd be pretty much undetectable by the police and the whole process could be automated and even randomised. Send the whole lot over the net on a nice secure link. Though the police may get a little suspicious of a constant stream of the same video of the same dog being batted about the net, so perhaps it could be split up and embedded in the individual images of the MJPEG stream from a camera pointed at somewhere everyone would want to look at (extra points if you get it to be a popular site- maybe a video of somewhere especially picturesque in Sicily that holidaymakers would look at)??

    They could even- gasp- start communicating in real life. Encrypted messages and the like.

    Alternatively, how about doing some actual investigation, geting a warrant to get into their homes, businesses & cars then bugging them, collecting evidence and prosecuting them?

    So how DID the police catch criminals in the past without knowing every detail of every citizen?

  9. Anonymous Coward

    mafia cloud computing

    How long before this drives the black hats to implement a VOIP-like protocol in their botnets? When VOIP is outlawed, only outlaws will have true VOIP, after all. At the rate things are going, I give it a few years until it's a criminal offence to be infected with malware at all, due to providing support for criminals. That'll show the plebs that the gubmint is tough on crime and the causes of crime.


  10. Gerard Krupa
    Black Helicopters

    Sudden Interest

    This sudden increase in interest towards "lawful interception" (I've read RIPA so I use the term lightly) of Skype just makes me think the capability already exists, probably with the full knowledge and compliance of the developers of the official client software, and the authorities are merely trying to encourage its use among criminals with the false implication that it is still secure. Consider this from Skype's privacy policy:

    Skype, Skype's local partner, or the operator or company facilitating your communication may provide personal data, communications content and/or traffic data to an appropriate authority lawfully requesting such information. Skype will provide all reasonable assistance and information to fulfil this request and you hereby consent to such disclosure.

  11. Evil Auditor

    @AC Re Did you see this...

    '...should start from the basis that it is there to serve the people and the people must be protected...'

    Where did you pick this up?! Seriously, who told you that crap? The main object of EU is to create numerous positions in Brussels and elsewhere for politicians and other officials to earn tax payers' money. Naturally, this status would be threatened. So what they do - and this is not only true for EU but even more so e.g. for Wacky Jacquie, Gordon Drown and the like - is to protect themselves from the hordes, i.e. tax payers.

    Overzealous rozzers aren't the worse...


  12. Ash
    Thumb Down

    Won't work. At all.

    They'll just shift communications onto a more secure infrastructure, for instance onion-routing or darknet-style networks. At that point, breach of the local machine is the only way to gain access to the communication in a useful period of time. If you have local access, however, something tells me that installing audio capture software will be WELL down the list of priorities.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Evil Auditor

    Ignoring the familiar and tiresome tone of an ill-informed anti-European rant for the moment, you should remember that the EU is currently one of the few institutions standing between the UK population and our NuLab government's desire for a modern Stalinist state.

    I refer the honourable commentator to the smackdown on the UK's DNA database and again with regards to Phorm. We couldn't control our government; the EU did. And thank God for that.

    Frankly I'd take an army of Brussels MEPs over Wacki Jacqui anyday (they're not as scary in the wrong light).

  14. Anonymous Coward

    @Evil Auditor

    "The main object of EU is to create numerous positions in Brussels and elsewhere for politicians and other officials to earn tax payers' money."

    No, no, no . . . the main object of the EU is to stop the French being invaded - again - and to give them a shot at running Europe instead of being crushed under the boot of <fill in country here>.

    The secondary point of the EU is to make it possible to get as much out of other countries as you can.

    Given this, it's kind of sad that the EU has more sense than Her Majesty's gov't on some things!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @David Hicks

    You might want to take a look at wikileaks.

  16. David Hicks

    @Anonymous Coward

    What should I be looking for? Is Asterisk compromised? Linux itself?

    Or am I now considered a terrorist by most western governments for advocating communications privacy?

    (I can believe any of them)

  17. Norman Wanzer

    Just talk to China

    If I remember correctly Skype admitted that China had found a way to tap into their communications (though I believe Skype did it by request). Just have the UK censors talk to the Chinese censors and ask how it was done.

  18. John Savard

    The Chinese Solution

    I did a bit of Googling. What happens in China is this: the normal Skype client will not function in China (presumably the ISPs block it), and a modified Skype client which is, as they say, compliant with local laws and regulations, must be downloaded from the company, TOM, that is Skype's business partner in China.

    That would presumably be a bit far for any European government to go.

    It was back in early October, 2008 that this was in the news; the excitement of the stock market crash may have driven it out of everyone's mind.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @David Hicks

    Re Wikileaks, no, just informing you there is a tie up, and I also read, but cannot verify, that

    skype is part of ebay

    that skype have assisted LEO's where required.

    I cannot find the reference to this, but it was recent, and referred to the current topic.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the EU is so pure

    Why do certified accountants keep refusing to sign the account books?

    Why do individual Ministers and staff keep coming under investigation for fraud, misappropriation of funds etc?

    The only reason the EU "is currently one of the few institutions standing between the UK population and our NuLab government's desire for a modern Stalinist state" is because they know that El Gordo and his cronies are the only thing stopping Joe Public realising how little power Westminster really has any more; if the true level of Brussel's control over the UK was more widely known, ANY politician who worked to keep us under the yoke of those unelected civil servants would soon get lynched.

    Don't mistake the EU's "protection" of our liberties for anything other than the desire to prevent us realising how badly they are fucking us over. I'm in favor of an EU run for the people of the EU rather than the elitist few who make most of the decisions - there are a few honest people slaving away to make life better for us mere mortals, but the bastards in charge are intent on proving that some people really think they are more equal than the people they supposedly serve.

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