Skype to face Belgium criminal court after failure to hand over call data

The issue is whether Skype is subject to same rules as telecom companies

Apple, Google urge Obama to reject encryption back doors

Apple, Google urge Obama to reject encryption back doors

Skype will have to appear in a Belgian criminal court after ignoring a judge's order to give law enforcement officials access to data from calls between suspected criminals.

The criminal court in Mechelen, Belgium, will determine whether Voice over IP (VoIP) service Skype is a telecom operator, said court spokesman Theo Byl on Tuesday. The company was ordered to appear in court on June 10.

The case started about three years ago when an examining magistrate in Mechelen ordered Skype to give law enforcement officials access to data from Skype-to-Skype calls between two suspected Armenian criminals. Both of them were in Belgium when making the calls.

Under Belgian law, telecom operators are obliged to give law enforcement officials access to call data if ordered to do so by a judge. Refusing to do so is a criminal offense, said Byl, who added that Skype did not respond to the order by the Mechelen magistrate.

Both the examining magistrate and the public prosecutor's office consider Skype to be a telecom operator under Belgian law. That's why the public prosecutor's office summoned Skype to appear before the criminal court, said Byl, adding that the company could be ordered to hand over the data and could also face a fine.

Microsoft, which owns Skype, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Law enforcement officials throughout Europe can relatively easily obtain a court order to access data related to calls over land lines and mobile phones. Such orders for Internet services have been more elusive, however. Laws are not clear on whether electronic communications services are subject to the same wire-tapping and data access rules that cover traditional telecom providers.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags skypelegalCriminal

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Ada Chan

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

I highly recommend the Dynabook Portégé® X30L-G notebook for everyday business use, it is a benchmark setting notebook of its generation in the lightweight category.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?