Several dozen rights groups have issued an open letter to Microsoft, asking the company to disclose how Skype user data is handled.
Among the groups are Electronic Frontier Foundation, Hermes Center for Digital Human Rights, Reporters Without Borders, the Guardian Project, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, DotConnectAfrica and the Tibetan Action Institute.
Many of Skype’s core users are international users, some of whom use its chat and Internet calling service to conduct legal business, advocacy and social science research. Such work relies on reasonable guarantees of privacy, but can be appealing for law enforcement agencies.
“It is unfortunate that these users, and those who advise them on best security practices, work in the face of persistently unclear and confusing statements about the confidentiality of Skype conversations, and in particular the access that governments and other third parties have to Skype user data and communications,” the letter says.
The letter’s chief request is that Microsoft issue a transparency report like those issued by Google, Twitter and others, documenting how many requests it gets for Skype user logs and how many it complies with.
The users also ask that Microsoft offer clearer information on what types of user data it collects and how long it retains it and what, if any, data from Skype calls and chats third parties may be able to intercept.