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

Better Identification of Viking Corpses Reveals: Half of the Warriors Were Female
2015-04-25 4:52
Shieldmaidens are not a myth! A recent archaeological discovery has shattered the stereotype of exclusively male Viking warriors sailing out to war while their long-suffering wives wait at home with baby Vikings. (We knew it! We always knew it.) Plus, some other findings are challenging that whole “rape and pillage” thing, too. Researchers at the University of Western Australia decided ...
Off Your Knees, Germany! Ernst Zundel 1983 - 2003
2015-04-25 1:15
For more information on the holocaust, how the war was forced upon Germany, and the REAL victims of the second world war see: http://gblt.webs.com/Real_Holocaust.htm http://web.archive.org/web/20130806074314/http://www.666blacksun.org/ http://www.zundelsite.org/
IRS Drops Attack For Six Years – No Evidence of Jurisdiction
2015-04-24 20:29
A big congrats to a friend I’ve been working with for several years, he stood up to the predators commonly called the “IRS” and they dropped their attack. Thanks also for providing me with the proof below. The criminals called the “IRS” initiated an attack claiming my friend was required to file six tax returns, or explain how he made ...
Into Eternity - Finland's 100,000 Year Massive Underground Spent Nuclear Fuel Program
2015-04-24 20:49
Into Eternity is a documentary about a deep geological repository for nuclear waste. The concept of long-term underground storage for radioactive waste has been explored since the 1950s. The inner part of the Russian doll-like storage canisters is to be composed of copper. Hence in the case of Onkalo it is tightly linked to experiments on copper corrosion in running ...
SPLC Accuses Oath Keepers of Inciting “Armed Confrontation” Over Sugar Pine Mine
2015-04-24 20:22
The Southern Poverty Law Center has accused Oath Keepers of inciting an armed confrontation with BLM authorities over the Sugar Pine Mine dispute in Oregon, despite the fact that the organization has explicitly stated that it is not promoting armed confrontation with the feds. In an article provocatively posted on the organization’s ‘Hatewatch’ section entitled Oath Keepers Descend Upon Oregon with ...
More News »