Microsoft-owned Skype is under investigation by the Luxembourg data protection authority for its alleged cooperation with the U.S. National Security Agency's (NSA) Prism spying program, according to a report by the Guardian newspaper.
Skype, which has its European headquarters in Luxembourg, allegedly cooperates with the NSA through a program exploring the legal and technical issues involved in making customer calls available to intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Luxembourg decided to investigate Skype following allegations that surfaced in June, the Guardian reported on Friday.
Luxembourg's data protection authority, CNPD, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Skype did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
The CNPD has powers to ensure that multinational companies based in Luxembourg respect national law, and often receives complaints from the data protection authorities of other European Union member states.
Under Luxembourg data protection law, each service provider or operator is required to ensure the confidentiality of communications and related traffic data.
"No person other than the user concerned may listen to, tap or store communications or the traffic data relating thereto, or engage in any other kinds of interception or surveillance thereof, without the consent of the user concerned," the unofficial English translation of the law published by the data protection authority reads.
Any person who violates that law is liable of a maximum imprisonment of one year and/or a fine up to €125,000 ($170,000), according to the law. The court dealing with the matter can also order companies like Skype to stop any processing that conflicts with the law on pain of a periodic monetary penalty determined by the court.
Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, open-source and online payment issues for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org