ˈskaɪp/ is a software application



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Skype

Skype (play /ˈskaɪp/) is a software application that allows users to make voice and video calls and chats over the Internet. Calls to other users within the Skype service are free, while calls to both traditional landline telephones and mobile phones can be made for a fee using a debit-based user account system. Skype has also become popular for its additional features which include instant messaging, file transfer, and videoconferencing. Skype has 929 million registered users as of September 2011.[1] The network is operated by Skype Limited, which has its headquarters in Luxembourg. Most of the development team and 44% of the overall employees of Skype are situated in the offices of Tallinn and Tartu, Estonia.[2][3]

Unlike other VoIP services, Skype is a peer-to-peer system rather than a client–server system, and makes use of background processing on computers running Skype software; the original name proposed – Sky peer-to-peer – reflects this.

Some network administrators have banned Skype on corporate,[4] government, home, and education networks,[5] citing reasons such as inappropriate usage of resources, excessive bandwidth usage,[6] and security concerns.[7]

On 10 May 2011, Microsoft Corporation agreed to acquire Skype Communications, S.à r.l for US$8.5 billion.[8] The company is to be incorporated as a division of Microsoft, and Microsoft will acquire all of the company's technologies, including Skype, with the purchase.[8]



Contents

[hide]



  • 1 Features

  • 2 History

    • 2.1 Two original founders depart and new CEO appointed

    • 2.2 eBay sells 70%

    • 2.3 Acquisition by Microsoft

  • 3 Usage and traffic

  • 4 Client applications and devices

  • 5 System and software

    • 5.1 Protocol

    • 5.2 Protocol detection and control

    • 5.3 Audio codecs

    • 5.4 Video codecs

    • 5.5 Client

  • 6 Security and privacy

    • 6.1 Service in the People's Republic of China

  • 7 Customer service

  • 8 Use of Skype for educational purposes

  • 9 Outages and downtime

  • 10 Competitors and rivals

    • 10.1 Instant messengers

    • 10.2 VoIP and telephony

  • 11 See also

  • 12 References

  • 13 External links

Features

Main article: Features of Skype

Registered users of Skype are identified by a unique Skype Name, and may be listed in the Skype directory.[9] Skype allows these registered users to communicate through both instant messaging and voice chat. Voice chat allows telephone calls between pairs of users and conference calling, and uses a proprietary audio codec. Skype's text chat client allows group chats, emoticons, storing chat history, offline messaging (since version 5) and editing of previous messages. The usual features familiar to instant messaging users — user profiles, online status indicators, and so on — are also included.

The Online Number, a.k.a. SkypeIn, service allows Skype users to receive calls on their computers dialled by conventional phone subscribers to a local Skype phone number; local numbers are available for Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.[10][11] A Skype user can have local numbers in any of these countries, with calls to the number charged at the same rate as calls to fixed lines in the country.

Video conferencing between two users was introduced in January 2006 for the Windows and Mac OS X platform clients. Skype 2.0 for Linux, released on 13 March 2008, also features support for video conferencing.[12] Version 5 beta 1 for Windows, released 13 May 2010, offers free video conferencing with up to five people.[13]

Skype for Windows, starting with version 3.6.0.216, supports "High Quality Video" with quality and features, e.g., full-screen and screen-in-screen modes, similar to those of mid-range videoconferencing systems.[14] Skype audio conferences currently support up to 25 people at a time, including the host.

Skype does not provide the ability to call emergency numbers such as 911 in the United States and Canada, 999 in the United Kingdom and many other countries, 111 in New Zealand, 000 in Australia, or 112 in Europe.[15] The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has ruled that, for the purposes of section 255 of the Telecommunications Act, Skype is not an "interconnected VoIP provider".[16] As a result, the U.S. National Emergency Number Association recommends that all VoIP users have an analog line available as a backup.[17]

In 2011, Skype partnered with Comcast to bring its video chat service to Comcast subscribers via their HDTV sets.[18]



History

Skype was founded in 2003 by Niklas Zennström from Sweden and Janus Friis from Denmark.[19] The Skype software was developed by Estonians Ahti Heinla, Priit Kasesalu and Jaan Tallinn, who were also behind the peer-to-peer file sharing software Kazaa.[20] In April 2003, Skype.com and Skype.net domain names were registered. In August 2003, the first public beta version was released.

One of the initial names for the project was "Sky peer-to-peer", which was then abbreviated to "Skyper". However, some of the domain names associated with "Skyper" were already taken.[21] Dropping the final "r" left the current title "Skype", for which domain names were available.[22]

In September 2005, SkypeOut was banned in China.[23] In October of the same year, eBay purchased Skype[24] for $2.6 billion.[25] (In 2011, the Ars Technica estimated the purchase price at $3.1 billion, not $2.6 billion.)[26] In December 2005, videotelephony was introduced.[27]

In April 2006, the number of registered users reached 100 million. In October, Skype 2.0 for Mac was released, the first full release of Skype with video for Macintosh, and in December, Skype announced a new pricing structure, with connection fees for all SkypeOut calls.[28] Skype 3.0 for Windows was released.[29]

In 2006, a now-discontinued feature called "Skypecasting" was introduced. It allowed recordings of Skype voice over IP voice calls and teleconferences to be used as podcasts. Skypecasting remained in beta until it was discontinued. Skypecasts hosted public conference calls for up to 100 people at a time. Unlike ordinary Skype p2p conference calls, Skypecasts supported moderation features suitable for panel discussions, lectures, and town hall forums. Skype operated a directory of public Skypecasts. Skypecasts was discontinued from 1 September 2008.[30]

Throughout 2007, updates (3.1, 3.2 and 3.5) added new features including Skype Find, Skype Prime, Send Money (which allowed users to send money via PayPal from one Skype user to another), video in mood, inclusion of video content in chat, call transfer to another person or a group, and auto-redial. Skype 2.7.0.49 (beta) for Mac OS X released adding availability of contacts in the Mac Address Book to the Skype contact list, auto redial, contact groups, public chat creation, and an in-window volume slider in the call window. During several days in August, Skype users were unable to connect to full Skype network in many countries[31] because of a Skype system-wide crash which was the result of exceptional number of logins after a Windows patch reboot ("Patch Tuesday").[32] And in November, there was controversy when it was announced that users having London (020) 7 numbers would lose them.[33]

By early 2008, the tumultuous ownership relations between the Founders and eBay had resulted in significant leadership churn, with a succession of Skype presidents including Niklas Zennström, Rajiv Dutta, Alex Kazim, Niklas Zennström (again), and Henry Gomez, all holding that title at various points between 2005 and 2007. The business had failed to meet certain earn-out targets, growth was decelerating, product development had slowed significantly, and in October 2007 eBay took a $1.4 billion 'impairment' on the value of Skype, admitting it had overpaid, and now valuing the company at about $2.7 billion.[34]

In October 2008, analysis revealed TOM-skype — the Chinese version of Skype run by TOM Online — sends content of text messages and encryption keys to monitoring servers.[35]

Two original founders depart and new CEO appointed

For the six months after the departure of Niklas and Janus, Michael van Swaaij led the company as Interim CEO, until the appointment of Josh Silverman in February 2008.[36] Silverman was "widely viewed as bringing in stability to Skype after a tumultuous phase that followed the exit of the two Skype co-founders."[37] Under Silverman's 2.5 year tenure, the company focused its product efforts around video calling, ubiquity (gaining high penetration on smartphones, PCs, TVs, and consumer-electronic devices), building tailored offerings for enterprise customers, and diversifying revenue through subscriptions, premium accounts and advertising.

In advancing this strategy, Skype released many new products, substantially revamping its flagship Windows software (3.8 ->4.0), and its Macintosh and Linux software; while introducing new software products for smartphones, and consumer electronics. In 2009, Skype 4.0 was released, featuring full-screen high-quality video calling.[38] the Linux client was updated, and an iPhone application was launched which topped the charts with over 1M downloads in its first two days.[39] Skype also announced the launch of its software for the Android platform.[40] Rounding out its ubiquity push, in 2010 Skype announced deep integration of Skype software into the IP-connected TVs from Panasonic, Samsung and Sony.[41]

During this period Skype also discontinuing lesser-used services such as support for the "Skype Me" presence indicator, which meant that a user was interested in receiving Skype calls from a non-contact. Skype also discontinued its SkypeCast service without explanation and added internal monthly and daily usage caps on their SkypeOut subscriptions, which had been advertised as "unlimited". Skype also discontinued its "dragonfly" feature, a community-generated yellow-pages product, and other features which were deemed to be under-performing or a distraction to management. Many users and observers had commented on the high rate of dropped calls and the difficulty reconnecting dropped calls. Updates including versions for the Sony PSP hand-held gaming system, version 2.0 for Linux with support for video-conferencing.

As part of its efforts to diversify revenues, Skype launched in April 2008 Skype for SIP, a service aimed at business users. At that time around 35 per cent of Skype's users were business users.[42] In targeted premium products to consumers, Skype launched new monthly premium subscriptions products in May 2010.[43]

Marketing efforts were also re-vamped, with a particular focus on innovative partnerships with TV broadcasters to integrate Skype into their programming. The Oprah Winfrey Show began using Skype regularly to host video calls between Oprah and her viewers at home, culminating in a show dedicated exclusively to the wonders of Skype ("where the Skype are You", aired first in May 2009).[44] Skype also became commonly used by network news stations around the world, as a cost-effective replacement for sending satellite trucks, and enabling fast response from citizen journalists. Skype was also integrated into scripted TV programming, such as Californication; and in the seventh season of the U.S. syndicated version of the British game show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire in a new Ask the Expert video chat lifeline.

These efforts led to dramatically accelerating growth of Skype's Connected Users and Paying Users in 2008 and 2009.[45] By 2009 Skype was adding about 380,000 new users each day;[46] and by 2010, Telegeography estimated that Skype accounted for 25 per cent of the world's international calling minutes. According to their research, the overall international calling market grew a tepid 5 to 6 per cent annually in 2010. "Skype, however, has seen a huge uptick in growth, particularly in the last two years."[47]

eBay sells 70%

Building on the revitalization which had begun in 2008, eBay announced, in April 2009, plans to spin off Skype through an initial public offering in 2010.[48] In August, Joltid filed a motion with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, seeking to terminate a licensing agreement with eBay which allows eBay (and therefore Skype) to use the peer-to-peer communications technology on which Skype is based. If successful, this may have caused a shutdown of Skype in its current form, and made an IPO challenging to execute.[49] In September, eBay announced the sale of 65 per cent of Skype to a consortium of Index Ventures and Silver Lake Partners. Early in September, Skype shut down the Extras developer program.[50] In November Skype settled the Joltid litigation and acquired all Skype technology in exchange for equity in the company[51] and eBay completed the sale of 70% of Skype to a consortium comprising Silver Lake Partners, Joltid, CPPIB, and Andreessen Horowitz for approximately $2 billion, valuing the entire business at US$2.75 billion.[52]

In January 2010, Josh Silverman was recognized for his accomplishments in revitalizing Skype by being named First Runner Up in the TechCrunch "Crunchies" award for "Best CEO", beaten only by Mark Pincus of Zynga.[53]

In May, Skype 5.0 beta was released, with support of group video calls with up to four participants. Also in May, Skype released an updated client for the Apple iPhone which allowed Skype calls to be made over a 3G network. Originally, a 3G call subscription plan was to be instituted in 2011, but Skype eventually dropped the plan.[54]

In June 2010, following the rapid departure of first Daniel Berg and then Madhu Yarlagadda as Chief Technology Officer and Chief Development Officer, Mark Gillett an operating executive at Silver Lake Partners assumed the role of Chief Development Officer following a period of several months working closely with Joshua Silverman to drive the transformation of the business and acceleration of cross platform and mobile product delivery.

On 9 August 2010, Skype filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to raise up to $100 million in an initial public offering Sources reported the company in fact expected to raise at least $1 billion.[55][56]

In October 2010, Skype announced it had named Tony Bates as its CEO; Bates has been a senior VP at Cisco and responsible for its multi-billion-dollar enterprise, commercial and small business division.[57]

On 14 October 2010, Skype 5.0 for Windows was released with a number of improvements and feature additions, including a Facebook tab to allow users to SMS, chat with, or call their Facebook friends via Skype from the News Feed.[58] This version dropped support for the "Search for Skype Users" option.[59]

On 14 January 2011, Skype acquired Qik, a mobile video sharing platform.[60]

In March 2011, Skype named Jonathan Chadwick as its Chief Financial Officer and confirmed that Mark Gillett would serve full time as Chief Development and Operating Officer following the departure of Chief Financial and Administrative Officer Adrian Dillon.



Acquisition by Microsoft

On 10 May 2011, Microsoft announced it had agreed to acquire Skype for $8.5 billion.[61] This marked a 300% increase in value for the company in the three years since the eBay write-down in October 2007. It will be Microsoft's largest acquisition ever.[62] Skype will be a division within Microsoft, with Skype's former CEO Tony Bates —now its president —reporting to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.[63] The price Microsoft agreed to pay for the company is 32 times Skype's operating profits.[64] According to the Financial Times this raises fears of a new tech bubble.[64] Ars Technica and the BBC have questioned the value for Microsoft in the purchase.[65][66]



Usage and traffic

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Date

Total user accounts
(millions)[67][68][69][70][71][72][73][74]

Active users, daily use
(millions)[75][66][76]

Skype to Skype minutes
(billions)[77]

SkypeOut minutes
(billions)

Revenue USD
(millions)

Q4 2005

74.7

10.8

N/A

N/A

N/A

Q1 2006

94.6

15.2

6.9

0.7

35

Q2 2006

113.1

16.6

7.1

0.8

44

Q3 2006

135.9

18.7

6.6

1.1

50

Q4 2006

171.2

21.2

7.6

1.5

66

Q1 2007

195.5

23.2

7.7

1.3

79

Q2 2007

219.6

23.9

7.1

1.3

90

Q3 2007

245.7

24.2

6.1

1.4

98

Q4 2007

276.3

27.0

11.9

1.6

115

Q1 2008

309.3

31.3

14.2

1.7

126

Q2 2008

338.2

32.0

14.8

1.9

136

Q3 2008

370

33.7

16.0

2.2

143

Q4 2008

405

36.5

20.5

2.6

145

Q1 2009

443

42.2

23.6

2.9

153

Q2 2009

483

 ?

25.5

3.0

170

Q3 2009

521

 ?

27.7

3.1

185

Q4 2009

 ?

 ?

36.1

 ?

 ?

2010 (full year)

 ?

 ?

190

12.8

860

Users may have more than one account; it is not possible to count users, only accounts.

The volume of international traffic routed via Skype is significant. It has become the largest international voice carrier (by minutes of calls).[78]



Year

International call market share

2005

2.9%[79]

2006

4.4%[79]

2008

8%[78]

2010

13%[80]

In January 2011, after the release of video calling on the Skype client for iPhone, Skype reached a record 27 million simultaneous online users.[81] This record was broken with 29 million simultaneous online users on 21 February 2011,[82] and again on 28 March 2011 with 30 million online users.[83]

Client applications and devices

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This section may need to be updated. Please update this section to reflect recent events or newly available information, and remove this template when finished. Please see the talk page for more information. (May 2011)

Skype runs on a number of platforms, and on 29 October 2007, Skype launched its own mobile phone under the brand name 3 Skypephone, which runs a BREW OS.[84] Other platforms officially supported include:

  • About 50 mobile phones, as of 2008[85]

  • The Nokia N800, N810 and N900 Internet Tablets, which use the Maemo environment

  • Both the Sony mylo COM-1 and COM-2 models

  • The PlayStation Portable Slim and Lite series, though the user needs to purchase a specially-designed microphone peripheral. The PSP-3000 has a built in microphone which allows communication without the Skype peripheral.[86] PSP Go has the ability to use Bluetooth connections with the Skype application, in addition to its built-in microphone.[87]

  • Mobile devices running Windows Mobile;[88] in February 2010, Skype announced its decision to discontinue development Skype for Windows Mobile.[89] In May 2010, Skype announced it would not develop a version of Skype for Windows Phone 7.[90] At MIX 11, It was announced that Skype is coming to Windows Phone 7 <http://www.neowin.net/news/skype-coming-to-windows-phone-7>.

  • Symbian; Skype version 5.0 is the latest version for the Symbian platform[91]

  • The X-Series together with mobile operator 3. However this uses a regular mobile phone call and iSkoot[92] to a Skype gateway, rather than mobile Internet. Other companies produce dedicated Skype phones which connect via WiFi

  • iOS, using an official application released on 31 March 2009. As of version 2.x, the iPhone application is capable of placing voice calls over 3G and EDGE networks. Skype originally announced it will charge a monthly fee for this feature at the start of 2011, but that was eventually dropped.[54] On December 29, Skype updated their iOS app to version 3.0, allowing mobile video calling. On August 2 2011, Skype officially released an iPad app named 'Skype for iPad' which allows the user to have video calls using iPad 2's front and back cameras. The original iPad is also allowed to make calls but only voice calls, The other person on the other side can make a video call if they have a camera, and the original iPad can only receive the video but not send.

  • A variety of BlackBerry and Android 3G Smartphones, through Verizon Wireless' Skype mobile service. Customers can receive Skype calls, instant messages and see friends' presence any time the phone is on. Skype usage isn't charged against customers’ monthly Verizon Wireless minute allowance when calling another Skype account (Skype-to-Skype). Customers in the U.S. use minutes from their calling plan when calling U.S. land lines or cell phones.[93]

Some devices are made to work with Skype by talking to a desktop Skype client or by embedding Skype software into the device. These are usually either tethered to a PC, or have a built-in Wi-Fi client to allow calling from Wi-Fi hotspots like the Netgear SPH101 Skype Wi-Fi Phone, the SMC WSKP100 Skype Wi-Fi Phone, the Belkin F1PP000GN-SK Wi-Fi Skype Phone, the Panasonic KX-WP1050 Wi-Fi Phone for Skype Executive Travel Set, the IPEVO So-20 Wi-Fi Phone for Skype and the Linksys CIT200 Wi-Fi Phone. There are also embedded cordless Skype phones based on DECT, which do not need a PC either, like the DUALphone 3088 from RTX. Netgear and SMC's Wi-Fi phones are considered the two major competitors in the market, with reviews of the Wi-Fi phones giving them equal coverage.[citation needed]

The Skype Wi-Fi Phone is a wireless mobile phone that allows users to make Skype calls, using a wireless Internet connection. The Skype Wi-Fi Phone has an on-screen menu that lets Skype users see who is online and available to talk, similar to what is seen on a PC. It can also be used to talk with non-Skype users. SkypeOut minutes can be used to call any phone for a low price and no monthly fee. The Skype Wi-Fi phone does not contain a web browser and so can not access hotspots, which require web-based login or authentication.[94]

Third-party developers, such as Truphone, Nimbuzz_IM and Fring, have allowed Skype to run in parallel with several other competing VoIP/IM networks (Truphone and Nimbuzz provide truphoneOut and NimbuzzOut as a competing paid service) in any Symbian or Java environment. Nimbuzz has made Skype available to BlackBerry users. In July 2010, however, Fring disabled users from accessing Skype despite claiming that Skype themselves disabled the access;[95] Fring had provided mobile video calling over Skype as well as support for the Android platform. Nimbuzz discontinued support on request of Skype in October 2010.[96]

Until November 2010, only certain Samsung and Panasonic TVs offered Skype video service.[97]



System and software

Protocol

Main article: Skype protocol

Skype uses a proprietary Internet telephony (VoIP) network called the Skype protocol. The protocol has not been made publicly available by Skype and official applications using the protocol are closed-source. Part of the Skype technology relies on the Global Index P2P protocol belonging to the Joltid Ltd. corporation. The main difference between Skype and standard VoIP clients is that Skype operates on a peer-to-peer model (originally based on the Kazaa software[98]), rather than the more usual client–server model (note that the very popular SIP model of VoIP is also peer-to-peer, but implementation generally requires registration with a server, as does Skype).



Protocol detection and control

Many networking and security companies claim to detect and control Skype's protocol for enterprise and carrier applications. While the specific detection methods used by these companies are often private, Pearson's chi-square test and Naive Bayes classification are two approaches that were published in 2007.[99] Combining statistical measurements of payload properties (such as byte frequencies and initial byte sequences) as well as flow properties (like packet sizes and packet directions) has also shown to be an effective method for identifying Skype's TCP- and UDP-based protocols.[100]



Audio codecs

Skype uses an array of different audio compression methods including G.729 and SVOPC. Skype added a Skype-created codec called SILK to Skype 4.0 for Windows and other Skype clients. SILK is intended to be "lightweight and embeddable".[101]



Video codecs

VP7 is used for versions prior to Skype 5.5[102][103] As of version 5.5 VP8 is used for both group and one on one video chat.[104][105][106]

Client

There are versions for Linux (includes Android, Maemo), iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), Mac OS X (Intel, PPC), Symbian S60, Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP), Microsoft Windows (2000, XP, Vista, 7, Mobile), and for 2010 TV models from LG, Panasonic, and Samsung, but needs a special webcam built for those TVs.[107]



http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/d/da/skype-2-1-0-81beta-linux.png/90px-skype-2-1-0-81beta-linux.png

Skype 2.1, running on a Linux desktop  




http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/8/81/skype_macosx.png/78px-skype_macosx.png

Skype 2.7, running on Mac OS X Leopard  




http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/a/af/skype_5.1_macosx.png/180px-skype_5.1_macosx.png

Skype 5.1, running on Mac OS X Snow Leopard  




http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7a/mac_skype_version_5.1.0.935.jpg/180px-mac_skype_version_5.1.0.935.jpg

Skype 5.1.0.935, running on Mac OS X Snow Leopard  




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Skype 1.0.2 running on iPhone  




http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/f/f1/skype_for_windows_mobile.png/135px-skype_for_windows_mobile.png

Skype 2.2, running on a Windows Mobile 6 device  




http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/0/0c/skype_android.png/108px-skype_android.png

Skype 1.0 running on an Android 2.2 device  




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Skype Mobile on Verizon 1.6 running on an Android 2.2 device  




http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/a/a8/skype_4_default_view.png/180px-skype_4_default_view.png

Skype 4 in Default View running on Windows Vista  




http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/2b/skype-new-default.png/180px-skype-new-default.png

Skype 4 in Default View running on Windows XP  




http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/20/skype_default.png/180px-skype_default.png

Skype 5.3.0.111 in Default View on Windows 7  




Security and privacy

Main article: Skype security

Skype is claimed to be a secure communication; encryption cannot be disabled, and is invisible to the user. Skype reportedly uses publicly-documented, widely trusted encryption techniques: RSA for key negotiation and the Advanced Encryption Standard to encrypt conversations.[108] However, it is impossible to verify that these algorithms are used correctly, completely and at all times as there is no public review possible without a protocol specification and/or the program source code. Skype provides an uncontrolled registration system for users with no proof of identity. Instead, a free choice of nicknames permits users to use the system without revealing their identity to other users. It is trivial to set up an account using any name; the displayed caller's name is no guarantee of authenticity. A third party paper analyzing the security and methodology of Skype was presented at Black Hat Europe 2006. It analyzed Skype and found a number of security issues with the current security model.[109]

Skype incorporates some features which tend to hide its traffic, but it is not specifically designed to thwart traffic analysis and therefore does not provide anonymous communication. Some researchers have been able to watermark the traffic so that it is identifiable even after passing through an anonymizing network.[110]

In an interview Kurt Sauer, the Chief Security Officer of Skype, said, "We provide a safe communication option. I will not tell you whether we can listen or not."[111] Skype's client uses an undocumented and proprietary protocol. The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is concerned by user privacy issues arising from using proprietary software and protocols and has made a replacement for Skype one of their high priority projects.[112] Security researchers Biondi and Desclaux have speculated that Skype may have a back door, since Skype sends traffic even when it is turned off and because Skype has taken extreme measures to obfuscate their traffic and functioning of their program.[113] Several media sources reported that at a meeting about the "Lawful interception of IP based services" held on 25 June 2008, high-ranking unnamed officials at the Austrian interior ministry said that they could listen in on Skype conversations without problems. Austrian public broadcasting service ORF, citing minutes from the meeting, reported that "the Austrian police are able to listen in on Skype connections". Skype declined to comment on the reports.[114][115]

The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has interpreted the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) as requiring digital phone networks to allow wiretapping if authorized by an FBI warrant, in the same way as other phone services. In February 2009 Skype said that, not being a telephone company owning phone lines, it is exempt from CALEA and similar laws which regulate US phone companies, and in fact it is not clear whether Skype could support wiretapping even if it wanted to.[116] According to the ACLU, the Act is inconsistent with the original intent of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution;[117] more recently, the ACLU has expressed the concern that the FCC interpretation of the Act is incorrect.[118][119]

On 20 February 2009 the European Union's Eurojust agency announced that the Italian Desk at Eurojust would "play a key role in the coordination and cooperation of the investigations on the use of internet telephony systems (VoIP), such as 'Skype'. ... The purpose of Eurojust’s coordination role is to overcome the technical and judicial obstacles to the interception of internet telephony systems, taking into account the various data protection rules and civil rights"[120]



Service in the People's Republic of China

Since September 2007, users in China trying to download the Skype software client have been redirected to the site of TOM Online, a joint venture between a Chinese wireless operator and Skype, from which a modified Chinese version can be downloaded.[121] The TOM client participates in China's system of Internet censorship, monitoring text messages between Skype users in China as well as messages exchanged with users outside the country.[122][123] Niklas Zennström, then chief executive of Skype, told reporters that TOM "had implemented a text filter, which is what everyone else in that market is doing. Those are the regulations." He also stated: "One thing that’s certain is that those things are in no way jeopardising the privacy or the security of any of the users."[124] In October 2008, it was reported that TOM had been saving the full message contents of some Skype text conversations on its servers, apparently focusing on conversations containing political issues such as Tibet, Falun Gong, Taiwan independence, and the Chinese Communist Party. The saved messages contain personally identifiable information about the messages' senders and recipients, including IP addresses, usernames, land line phone numbers, and the entire content of the text messages, including the time and date of each message. Information about Skype users outside China who were communicating with a TOM-Skype user was also saved. A server misconfiguration made these log files accessible to the public for a time.[123][125][126]



Customer service

There have been complaints about Skype's customer support.[127][128] As of May 2010, Skype does not provide any official means to contact customer support, apart from indirect assistance through its Web portal only and contact email addresses. There is no e-mail or phone number for complaints about billing errors.

In January 2010 Skype rescinded their policy of seizing funds in Skype accounts that have been inactive (no paid call) for 180 days. This was in settlement to a class action lawsuit.[129] A settlement of up to US$4 was paid to persons who opted in to the action.

Skype's refund policy states that they will provide refunds in full if a client has used less than 1 euro of their Skype Credit. "Upon a duly submitted request, Skype will refund you on a pro rata basis for the unused period of a Product".



Use of Skype for educational purposes

Although Skype is a commercial product, its free version is being used with increasing frequency among teachers and schools interested in global education projects.[130]



Outages and downtime

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This section may need to be updated. Please update this section to reflect recent events or newly available information, and remove this template when finished. Please see the talk page for more information. (May 2011)



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