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Skype and surveillance

23 Aug

August 21, 2013. By: Paul Rosenberg,
Say Goodbye to Skype
Yes, it’s time to say goodbye to Skype. It was a great idea, 
and it still operates well, but it’s time to sever ties.

Not only is Skype plugged directly in to the surveillance 
grid, but the company is actively contributing to the most 
complete surveillance system in the history of mankind.
Here’s what has happened recently to Skype, which was 
originally a fairly secure (encrypted, peer-to-peer) system:
·       In 2009, Microsoft 
filed a patent on technology for spying on Skype. (Before they bought it!)
·       In November 2010, it was learned that a flaw in Skype 
allowed hackers to secretly record user IP addresses. As of a few months 
ago, it still wasn’t fixed.
·       It has been known since 2012 that 
Skype has made online chats and other user information available to police
(Not just to the Feds, but to local cops.)
·       Skype also allows local cops to examine your addresses and
 credit card numbers.
·       In November 2012, Skype was reported to have 
handed over user data of a pro-Wikileaks activist to a private security 
company called iSIGHT Partners, without a warrant or court order. 
Once this was revealed, Skype said that they would conduct “an 
internal investigation.” 
·       In May 2013, it was documented that a URL sent via 
Skype instant messaging session was usurped by the Skype service and subsequently 
used by Microsoft headquarters for information retrieval.
·       Skype, as a participant in the PRISM program, 
gives the NSA unfettered access to its data center.
I think it is clear that Skype is a surveillance-gathering tool for Big Brother 
in the first place, and a telephone system second. Yes, it still works, but you can 
be very certain that Skype is feeding every piece of information about you, the people 
you talk to, and the people that they talk to, directly to the overlords in DC… and to 
God knows who else.
These guys are not your friends.
The Replacements
Saying goodbye to Skype means that you need new methods of chatting and talking. No problem
 – you have options.
We’ll start with chat. Here you have two good choices:
#1 Pidgin
Get the Pidgin is a good chat program which allows you to chat on multiple networks
 simultaneously. It works with AIM, ICQ, Google Talk, Jabber/XMPP, MSN Messenger
 and many others.
Pidgin runs on Windows, Linux, and other UNIX operating systems. A version called Adium
 works with Mac OS.
When using Pidgin, you and your chat partners should also use Pidgin’s OTR 
(Off-the-Record) plugin, which will give you strong encryption.
Note: Gmail’s Google Chat “Off the Record” is not the Off-the-Record messaging we are 
talking about here. (Remember, Google and Facebook can only exist by trashing privacy.) 
Gmail’s “Off the Record” chats are not encrypted, and are all but certainly logged.
The very best way to chat is to do it inside of an anonymity network, which prevents outsiders
 from seeing who is chatting with, not just what they say. (Pidgin protects the content of your
 chats, but who you chat with, for how long and for how often, can be seen.)
The only full-spectrum anonymity network is Cryptohippie. Chat is built in to their standard 
Road Warrior accounts (as are secure email and anonymous voice). You can read the chat
 section of their FAQ here.
Voice conversations over the Internet are called VoIP (voice over IP). One good VoIP 
system is Jitsi. Jitsi uses the same protocols as many chat systems, but sends voice instead 
of text.
The first time you connect with someone using Jitsi, you’ll have to go through an authentication 
process, to verify that no one is trying to spoof identities. But once you’re done authenticating, 
you shouldn’t have to do it again. Call quality won’t match that of a wired telephone, but it is
 more than good enough.
If you want to call regular telephones from your computer using VoIP, you can use a service like DiamondCard. If you pay them anonymously (with Pecunix or Bitcoin), you will retain 
your privacy… except for whatever you say in your conversations, of course. Remember that 
all standard telephone conversations are likely to be recorded these days. Big Brother is here, 
The best option, however, is Cryptohippie‘s new voice system inside their anonymity network. 
That means that you can speak to your friends and associates through an encrypted, anonymous 
connection. Not only can’t the call be understood by anyone else, but no one will know who 
you talked to, for how long, or when.
This system works via computer, but it also works with smartphones. That means that you can 
be truly secure while talking on your cell phone.
The system actually functions more like a chat system than a regular phone, but it is very easy to
 use on either computers or mobiles.
Obviously, only calls between Cryptohippie users will remain anonymous. During conversations
 outside of the network your location would be masked, but your conversation would be
 accessible to snoops on the other end.
Instructions can be found on the Cryptohippie support Wiki, here.