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'Free' Skype Could Be Costly

Skype Ltd. is sure to attract more consumers with its “free calling to the U.S. and Canada” deal. But might it also aid criminals and telemarketers, since IP-to-PSTN calls are tough to trace? (See Analysts: Skype Freebie Is Defensive.)

That's a very real concern these days, especially given the uproar over the government's domestic spying program, which reportedly makes use of phone company records and databases. And because voice calls originating on the Internet are more difficult to trace to a physical location, the Skype service may become the proverbial “public payphone” for stalkers, telemarketers, and other harassers.

Representatives of Skype, which is owned by eBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY), wouldn't address the concerns head on. "I can tell you that Skype is extremely secure and an outstanding way for people everywhere to stay in touch," said Erica Jostedt, a PR firm spokesperson for Skype.

Get all the details at Dark Reading.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

"Ill" Duce 12/5/2012 | 3:53:32 AM
re: 'Free' Skype Could Be Costly Is it really a call?
If Alberto Gonzales had any decent advisers/shills, he'd argue that these were merely packets and not truly a "call."
Can't the Feds use deep packet inspection to give them some idea of the call? As much as I hate the Feds/Police State, the thought of off shore telemarketers is worse. Soon people from Nigeria will be calling asking me to verify my paypal account so that they can get their beloved rebel leader freed from the government jail and so that I can collect millions of dollars to sue to buy their timeshare vacation property in Barbados.
I like the idea of a button marked "destroy remote computer" or better yet it could send a "subliminable" message that would cause the other person to destroy their own operation like that Chuck Bronson movie, Telefon.

paulej 12/5/2012 | 3:53:35 AM
re: 'Free' Skype Could Be Costly The article had "cost" in the title, so I was looking for estimates of how much money the free US/Canada calls were estimated to cost Skype. I'd like to see those estimates.

On telemarketing: this is my fear. This is a very concerning side-effect of opening up phone calls to the world for free. Perhaps Skype might consider adding a "destroy remote computer" option :-p

As for criminal activity, I think this is blown out of proportion. After all, many international calls already do not have accurate calling party number information, many people are already using VoIP for international calls (including Skype) directly between PCs, etc. I don't think making calls "free" will make finding criminals harder. I think VoIP, in general, will make it harder.

However, you cannot stop it. Further, like freedom of speech, the right to bear arms, the right to peacefully assemble, one should have the right to have some privacy in communications without the government prying. The government might have won some support from the public prior to recent disclosures, but I do not think the public will be too sympathetic to wire tapping and call record collection these days.
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