Wiretapping, pen traces, and free SkypeOut

Ars Technica with an excellent overview of NSA programs. Be sure to follow the links to the story about Mark Klein, the AT&T whistleblower, and Klein’s statement to the press.

Meanwhile, I received an email today from Skype telling me that all phone calls made via Skype from anywhere in the US and Canada to any phone number in either country are now free for the rest of 2006. (They were previously about two eurocents a minute.) Since Skype phone calls are encrypted, this may or may not be related to what’s going on in the NSA revelations, but it’s very interesting. Notably, since Skype calls can be made from public wifi points, this bypasses both wiretapping and casual attempts at an IP trace. And it will probably lead me to buy less cell phone minutes. How many millions of others will do the same?

Only downsides that I can think of are that my laptop is not available while walking around (but PocketPC PDAs are, and are Skype compatible), and that SkypeOut calls don’t provide a caller ID, which strikes me as marginally unprofessional for business calls.

These are minor knocks, and it might move millions of phone calls into encrypted channels. I’m trying to wrap my head around how huge this might be.

Addendum: Apparently, reporters at ABC News are being individually targeted to find out who they are calling.

One thought on “Wiretapping, pen traces, and free SkypeOut

  1. The ABC thing is most interesting to me. I’ve seen political arguments about this back & forth, but now it’s really a question: are the people who are leaking information to ABC News, the New York Times, etc. truly breaking the law? If so, then reviewing the phone records of the reporters seems a logical step in tracking down a criminal. If they’re just a thorn in the administration’s side (and have not broken the law), then this is precisely the kind of abuse everyone’s been wringing their hands over…

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