Wed, Feb 18th 2009 3:15pm
Italian police are complaining that criminals there are increasingly turning to Skype to communicate, having discovered that it's essentially impossible for the cops to listen in on their conversations. Italian police aren't the first to notice this: German authorities were caught talking to a vendor that offered some cumbersome Skype-tapping software, while Skype itself didn't deny that the Chinese government had the ability to monitor Skype conversations. Lots of countries have banned Skype, often to protect the revenues of incumbent (or state-owned) telecom operators, but its encryption -- apparently strong enough to frustrate police around the world -- could provide more ammo for future bans, particularly in repressive nations. Italy, though, could be an interesting place for this battle to play out. While police there love their wiretaps, politicians don't: after a number of political figures have been embarrassed by leaked recordings of their conversations, they're trying to change laws to limit the cases for which wiretaps can be used, and to bar the reporting of details from wiretaps until after convictions are delivered in criminal cases. Perhaps instead of trying to change the law, Italian politicians could just start talking on Skype instead.
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