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Skype offers protection to criminals

German police are unable to decipher the encryption used in the internet telephone software Skype to monitor calls by suspected criminals and terrorists, Germany’s top police officer has reported.

Skype allows users to make telephone calls over the Internet from their computer to other Skype users free of charge. (VoIP)

Law enforcement agencies and intelligence services have used wiretaps since the telephone was invented, but implementing them is much more complex in the modern telecommunications market where the providers are often foreign companies.

The encryption with Skype telephone software … creates grave difficulties for us,” Joerg Ziercke, president of Germany’s Federal Police Office (BKA) told reporters at an annual gathering of security and law enforcement officials.

We can’t decipher it. That’s why we’re talking about source telecommunication surveillance — that is, getting to the source before encryption or after it’s been decrypted.

Experts say Skype and other Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) calling software are difficult to intercept because they work by breaking up voice data into small packets and switching them along thousands of router paths instead of a constant circuit between two parties, as with a traditional call.

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