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

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

MasterCard tests Orwellian national ID card on Nigeria
2014 09 19
The march toward enslaving the world’s population by a handful of globalist statists and corporations continues, with the latest chapter unfolding, of all places, in Nigeria, compliments of MasterCard. According to the website GovtSlaves.info, the credit card giant is rolling out a card in Africa’s most populous country that has the ability to retain all personal, health insurance, tax payment and ...
Doctor: Gov’t ‘Tight-Lipped’ on Respiratory Virus, May Be From Illegals
2014 09 19
Dr. Jane Orient, Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, reported that the government has been “real tight-lipped” about the mysterious respiratory illness that has struck children in the United States, expressed concern that the illegal immigrant minors from Central America could be the source, and argued that the government should devote more resources to border security ...
Breaking—CDC whistleblower: “I’ve stopped lying”
2014 09 18
Explosive…explosive…explosive… What more could anyone want in the way of evidence for an ongoing crime? There is a video posted at the autism media channel/YouTube, and at Age of Autism: “William Thompson’s call to Congress.” It is a recording of a telephone call between CDC whistleblower Thompson and Brian Hooker, PhD. No date is given. Presumably, the call was recorded before August 27, when ...
Ebola patients buying survivors’ blood from black market, WHO warns
2014 09 18
As hospitals in nations hardest hit by Ebola struggle to keep up, desperate patients are turning to the black market to buy blood from survivors of the virus, the World Health Organization warned. The deadliest Ebola outbreak in history has killed at least 2,400 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone -- the countries most affected by the virus. Thousands more are ...
Scottish independence referendum LIVE UPDATES
2014 09 18
Scottish voters go to the polls on Thursday to choose whether or not to break away from the UK and form an independent state. The ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns have been neck-and-neck in the pre-ballot polls. Both sides in the referendum debate are making their final pitch to voters. It comes as three new polls show the result remains too close ...
More News »