Skype faces Luxembourg probe over NSA Prism program -- report

Officials for the European country investigate whether Skype shared information on Luxembourg-based users with the NSA, according to a report from the Guardian.

Skype viewed via Outlook.com
Skype running in Outlook. Microsoft/Screenshot by CNET

Skype might soon face some issues in Luxembourg over an alleged link to the National Security Agency's Prism program, according to a new report.

The small European country's data-protection commissioner is investigating whether the Microsoft-owned video calling and messaging service was involved in sharing information on Luxembourg-based users with the NSA, the Guardian reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the investigation. If found guilty of illegally sharing information, Skype could face sanctions and the possibility of criminal charges.

After the NSA's Prism program was revealed earlier this year by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, several technology companies were questioned on their alleged involvement with the program, including Skype. According to the Guardian, Luxembourg's investigation into Skype kicked off immediately after the NSA leaks started.

Luxembourg's law prohibits violating user privacy, but does allow for sharing of information with other governments if expressly allowed through a judicial panel or a prime minister tribunal. The Guardian said its sources are unclear whether Skype was given any go-ahead through that allowance to share user information with the US.

"We regularly engage in a dialogue with data protection authorities around the world and are always happy to answer their questions," a Microsoft spokesperson told CNET in an e-mailed statement. "It has been previously widely reported that the Luxembourg DPA was one of the DPAs that received complaints from the 'Europe v. Facebook' group, so we're happy to answer any questions they may have."

Update, 10 a.m. PT: Adds Microsoft's statement.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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