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FSB can tap your Skype without court order

"Wherever you are, wherever they are - Skype keeps you together." Skype's slogan sure has a double meaning in Russia. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Russian intelligence agencies can not only listen to your conversations, but also determine your location.

FSB and the Internal Affairs Ministry (MVD) have been capable to wiretap and locate Skype users for some years already, reports Vedomosti on Thursday. The newspaper is citing experts on information security.

“Special services have been capable for several years not only to wiretap but also to locate a Skype user. That’s why, for instance, employees of our company are forbidden to discuss business-related topics on Skype,” General Director of Group-IB, Ilya Sachkov,” says to Vedomosti.

“After Microsoft acquired Skype in May 2011, it updated the software with technology allowing legitimate wiretapping,” says Maksim Emm, Director of Peak Systems.

Since then, any Skype user account can be switched to a special mode in which the encryption codes that were earlier generated on a user’s portable device or PC would be generated on Skype’s server. When you connect to the server, it is possible to listen to conversations or to read messages.

In Russia, Skype is not registered as an phone operator. Such a move would make accessing and collecting private data even easier for the authorities, because in accordance with Russian legislation, mobile operators and Internet service providers are required to collect personal data and store it for at least three years, RT reports.

Vedomosti quotes a law enforcement official saying that tapping Skype do not pose an insurmountable problem to the Russian law enforcement bodies. MVD and FSB both declined to comment on the issue.