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UK government tops number of requests for Skype users details

Microsoft has released figures of which countries have tried to make them release details of Skype users, and the UK tops the list. 

The 2012 Law Enforcement Requests Report shows that the UK government made 1,268 requests for the names of Skype users, with the US government making 1,154 requests. 

Third highest on the list was Germany, which made 686 requests followed by France which registered 402. China’s government only registered 6 requests. 

UK government tops number of requests for Skype users details
I’ll muck your lens – The UK government wants your Skype details

Read Recombu Digital’s report on the Communications Data Bill

In total, Skype received 4,713 requests from law enforcement agencies, but Skype did not furnish the UK government with any details.

Brad Smith general counsel and executive vice president of legal and corporate affairs at Microsoft said overall:

“Those requests impacted 15,409 accounts or other identifiers, such as a PSTN [Public Service Telephone Network – your home phone] number. Skype produced no content in response to these requests, but did provide non-content data, such as a SkypeID, name, email account, billing information and call detail records if a user subscribed to the Skype In/Online service, which connects to a telephone number.”

In the UK, Skype was only able to furnish enforcement agencies with information in 40 cases. This is significant because the Communications Data Bill would give UK authorities easier access to things like people’s SkypeIDs. Nick Pickles, director of privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said:

“It is surprising that the UK made more requests for Skype user data than the US and reaffirms the need for a proper review of how the police currently use their powers and whether they have the right skills to tackle crimes involving technology, as the Metropolitan Police Commissioner has warned. In the absence of police transparency, these reports are now an essential part of the debate about how the police access data from communications companies and it should be urgently investigated why in 50 cases Microsoft were asked to provide data where it did not meet the legal requirements to warrant disclosure.”

The Communications Data Bill is currently under review after being rejected in its draft form. It will need to be extensively rewritten before the it runs the gauntlet of seveal Commons and Lords reviews. 

Image credit: Flickr user ell brown

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