European investigators research VoIP tapping methods
Eurojust, the European Union's Judicial Cooperation Unit, wants to co-ordinate development efforts to explore the interception of VoIP conversations. The project was instigated by the Italian Direzione Nazionale Antimafia agency. According to a Eurojust press release Italy's Eurojust member Carmen Manfredda, will play a key role in the coordination of the investigations.
The press release says that, when coordinating their activities, criminals in Italy are increasingly using VoIP services such as Skype, to avoid getting caught through mobile phone intercepts. Skype's encryption system reportedly poses an obstacle for investigators; the release says this is a well-kept business secret. Customs and tax police in Milan have also highlighted the Skype issue. According to reports in the U.S. media, eBay subsidiary Skype has agreed to cooperate with the European investigators.
Investigators, both in Europe and in the U.S., are looking for ways of intercepting Skype. Recently, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) allegedly agreed to pay several billion dollars to any firm which can assist it in creating an interception solution. The German authorities are also struggling with monitoring Skype calls. A trojan is one of the solutions being discussed for intercepting internet telephony before it is encrypted. In mid 2008, reports claimed that the Austrian police had found a way of tapping Skype connections. However, rumours about a possible back door in Skype, that allows listening in on conversations, have not been substantiated.