Eurojost, the European Union’s Judicial Cooperaion Unit, has just issued a press release that was meant to clarify reports about the EU looking into methods to intercept Skype calls. Instead, it has only increased speculation about alleged backdoors built into the Skype software:

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In September 2006, a first strategic meeting on internet telephony took place at Eurojust, in the context of another case introduced by Italy. The participants were informed of the technical and legal issues of the subject. Representatives from the company Skype S.A. were invited and present at this meeting. There was a positive message from the Skype representatives during the meeting, showing their commitment to cooperate with the law enforcement authorities in the fight against serious, cross-border organised crime.

That sure sounds like they either have a backdoor in the software already, or they are working on building one. This appears to be confirmed by reports from Austrian government officials, who reported that Austrian police can already listen in on Skype conversations; and that wasn’t the first report about this issue either.

ITWire had a nice summary of then-current rumors last year, and links to a security review done in 2005. However, that review was done before the rumors about backdoors started, and since the Skype protocol continues to be a closely guarded secret, I wouldn’t discount the possibility that at least some of these rumors are true.

If you do need a secure VoIP application, I’d recommend checking out Zfone; it’s designed by the creator of PGP, and you can download the source code if you want to check for backdoors.

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