Convenient timing eh? A new patent titled “Legal Intercept” has just been granted to the Redmond tech giant. The patent claims include a method of eavesdropping on all VOIP related applications that before have been impossible to decode because of their high level of encryption.
Typical eavesdropping, or phone tapping, has been executed in the past by monitoring the calls when the touch a PSTN device. This method does not work with modern P2P connections however, as they never exit from their encrypted digital format.
This patent has many critics citing the obvious privacy concerns, but the truth is Microsoft is simply capitalizing on governments’ legal requirement for a “back door”. India for instance has threatened for the last year to completely ban Skype for not allowing authorities to perform surveillance on it’s encrypted lines.
The patent is not exclusive to Skype, or any VOIP application, it covers any program wherein a VOIP tunnel connection can be routed through a 3rd party recording system. Since Microsoft already has multiple services that fall under this category, including it’s XBOX voice chat, the timing of the patent issuance and the acquisition of Skype is most likely pure coincidence.