Microsoft is looking to attain a patent for technology that allows the company to eavesdrop on VoIP calls, only weeks after the purchase of Skype for $8.5 billion dollars. Apparently, Microsoft applied for this patent back in 2009. Microsoft has been working on intercepting calls on similar voice messaging software such as Microsoft Voice and Unified Communications.
The patent, titled "Legal Intercept," allows for interception of a call on a VoIP network. Microsoft argues that this patent is a way to answer to government requests for surveillance and wiretapping. "Sometimes, a government or one of its agencies may need to monitor communications between telephone users."
"Traditional techniques for silently recording telephone communication may not work correctly with VoIP and other network-based communication technology. For example, VoIP may include audio messages transmitted via gaming systems, instant messaging protocols that transmit audio, Skype and Skype-like applications, meeting software, video conferencing software, and the like."
A Sophos security advisor said that this patent would help Skype overcome resistance from foreign governments who really want this backdoor.
Ciritics to this argue otherwise. "First, making a communication technology FBI-friendly means also making it dictator-friendly, and in the long run this is not good for movements like the Arab Spring. Second, experience shows that building in back doors invites exploits," said Law Professor Michael Froomkin.
The application for this patent is still pending.