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[liberationtech] Call for Open Letter on Skype

Nadim Kobeissi nadim at nadim.cc
Thu Dec 27 02:14:11 PST 2012


On Thu, Dec 27, 2012 at 6:34 AM, Christopher Soghoian <chris at soghoian.net>wrote:

> I can't believe that I am saying this, but can we tone down the paranoia a
> bit please?


I'm not sure I understand. How is it totally reasonable to critique Skype
endlessly regarding its unclear policies and circumstantial evidence of it
revealing private information to whoever asks, bu paranoid to correlate
this with an interception patent filed by its parent company (which has had
its own interception and surveillance guides leaked) that even mentions
Skype?


>


> Large US technology companies are stockpiling patents, left, right and
> center, primarily because of the costly patent wars that are ravaging the
> industry. Back in 2011, Microsoft (and a consortium of other companies,
> including Apple) bought telecom giant Nortel's portfolio of patents for 4.5
> billion. I guarantee you there are a few surveillance related technologies
> in that portfolio of 6000 telco patents. That doesn't mean Microsoft wanted
> to implement Nortel's patented surveillance technologies - but rather, that
> it thought a partial share in that portfolio would give it leverage in its
> war against Google and others.
>
> If you want a good primer on this toxic aspect to the american legal
> system and the IT industry, I can't think of anything better than this
> episode of This American Life:
> http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/441/when-patents-attack
>
> Microsoft filed the Skype interception patent (which really isn't directed
> at Skype - the word Skype appears twice, in a patent filing that is over
> 9000 words) in 2009, two years before the company bought Skype.
>
> Companies file patents all the time for technologies they don't intend to
> ever use.
>
> Now, don't get me wrong, there are lots of things that Microsoft does that
> concern me. The total silence from the C-level suite about Stuxnet and
> Flame is shocking, while their continued refusal to include disk encryption
> functionality in the consumer version of Windows that comes with most new
> PCs is absolutely disgraceful.
>
> However, the mere filing of a patent for an interception technology,
> without any evidence to suggest that Microsoft has implemented it Skype, is
> simply not a good reason to get out the pitchforks.
>
> Regards,
>
> Chris
>
> On Wed, Dec 26, 2012 at 2:53 PM, The Doctor <drwho at virtadpt.net> wrote:
>
>>
>>
>> There is no reason to expect that anything good for anyone other than
>> them will come from such a letter.  Not with this on deck:
>>
>>
>> http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PG01&s1=20110153809&OS=20110153809&RS=20110153809
>>
>> http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/06/29/microsoft_skype/
>>
>>
>> https://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9218002/Microsoft_seeks_patent_for_spy_tech_for_Skype
>>
>> It would make no sense at all for them to do the work to file a patent
>> on CALEA intercept of Skype traffic and then not do anything with it.
>
>
> --
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