Project Chess: Skype’s secret program aimed at making calls readily available to intelligence agencies
2013-06-20 0:00

By Madison Rupert | ActivistPost



In yet another instance of a report indicating that tech giants worked directly with intelligence agencies to enable government surveillance, it is now being reported that Skype began a secret program called Project Chess to enable intelligence agencies and law enforcement to easily get a hold of calls.

This comes after it was revealed that Skype was part of the massive National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program known as PRISM.

The latest revelation about Skype’s secret program is quite interesting given the controversy surrounding the privacy and security of Skype. Indeed, the NSA leaks hinted that Microsoft may have lied about the security of Skype, though many suspicions were raised last year after they filed for a patent for “legal intercept” technology.

According to a New York Times report citing people briefed on the program, Project Chess was limited to less than a dozen people inside Skype and focused on exploring both the legal and technical issues in making Skype calls readily available to individuals in the intelligence and law enforcement communities.

The report also details the close relationship between Internet giants and the NSA. Max Kelly, former chief security officer for Facebook, for example, left the company in 2010 in order to join the NSA.

Silicon Valley companies work closely with the NSA because it is a mutually beneficial relationship. The Internet giants have the data the NSA wants along with the data analytics tools they need while the NSA has an unknown amount of money to spend.

Precise numbers for the NSA budget are impossible to maintain given that the budget is classified.

However, Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ government secrecy program, told CNN that he thinks about $10 billion go to the NSA.

Former White House budget official for national security Gordon Adams, on the other hand, said he wouldn’t be surprised if the NSA’s resources exceed $20 billion per year.

It’s hardly surprising that tech companies would want to work with such a massive, powerful agency. If the New York Times report is correct, they’re doing precisely that.

Project Chess reportedly began around five years ago, even before the majority of the company was sold by eBay to outside investors in 2009. Skype was then purchased by Microsoft in a deal valued at $8.5 billion which was completed in October 2011.

The project was developed as the company had “contentious talks with the government over legal issues,” according to one person briefed on the project.

Interestingly, it seems that when a Skype executive stated last year that recent changes in the operation of Skype were not made at the request of Microsoft in order to make government spying easier, they were actually being truthful.

That is because the PRISM documents leaked by Edward Snowden showed that Skype joined the program on Feb. 6, 2011, before Microsoft even took over the company.

It’s important to note that Microsoft will no longer affirm statements made by Skype back in 2008 indicating that Skype calls couldn’t be wiretapped.

Unsurprisingly, Frank Shaw, a Microsoft spokesman, declined comment to the Times.

Yet, as Ryan Gallagher pointed out, Skype did attempt to alleviate surveillance fears in March of this year by releasing a transparency report that claimed the company did not hand over any Skype communications content to any agency anywhere in the world.

“Now, though, the disclosures about PRISM and Project Chess appear to flagrantly discredit Microsoft’s Skype eavesdropping denials,” Gallagher noted.

“While publicly portraying Skype chats as beyond government intrusion, the company was apparently working to grant U.S. authorities covert access to them,” he wrote.

[...]

Read the full article at: activistpost.com




Related Articles
The National Security Industrial Complex and NSA Spying: The Revolving Doors Between State Agencies and Private Contractors
An open (of course) letter to my friend, the NSA
Google’s deep CIA and NSA connections
Firefox plug-in warns users of NSA surveillance
The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center, “Watch What You Say”
Skype Outed: software set to snitch mode to please Chinese government (2008)


Latest News from our Front Page

Increased tax subsidies for politically correct media
2015-03-29 22:08
On Dec 9 last year I translated a random snapshot of the biggest newspaper in Sweden. The headlines alone spoke for themselves. It was, simply put, an orgy of political correctness, obvious attempts at emotional manipulation and general national self-loathing. In other words, a typical Swedish newspaper on any given day. As more and more readers are waking up to the ...
When obeying the law and supporting yourself is racist
2015-03-29 22:56
There is a huge scandal in the municipality of Älmhult in Sweden. It has been revealed that there is a letter that may have been sent from the municipality offices to newly arrived immigrants informing them that the law applies to them and that they’re expected to eventually go off the dole and start pulling their own weight in society. In ...
New political weapon: Threat to unleash immigrant invasion
2015-03-29 22:05
Youtube description: Threatening to bombard a country with illegal immigrants has become quite the bargaining chip in political quarrels, as Polly Boiko explains. Source: youtube.com/RT Editors Note: Notice how the argument is twisted around at the end of the report. The word "Bogeyman" is used. This is a common allusion to a mythical creature. What is mythical about replacement immigration into Europe? ...
Facebook completes first drone flight above UK, Mark Zuckerberg confirms
2015-03-28 3:15
Solar powered drones which provide internet access to rural and remote areas have been trialled in UK for first time by Facebook. They “have a wingspan greater than a Boeing 737 but will weigh less than a car”, according to the social network's chief Mark Zuckerberg. The drones, developed by Somerset-based company Ascenta which Facebook bought last March, will beam down laser-guided ...
300 Young English Girls (and a few Boys) Groomed and Assaulted by Oxfordshire "Gangs," Report Finds
2015-03-28 2:04
Editor's note: This story is a few days old now but the echoes of Rotherham just keeps coming. A few weeks ago there was Halifax, now Britain proudly can add Oxfordshire to their line up of diversity success stories. Below is the story from the telegraph: Serious case review finds failings by police and social services as it identifies hundreds of victims A ...
More News »