Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Skype, EBay, and Communications Privacy

EBay has bought Skype, for reasons that I don’t quite understand. Perhaps all that cash was burning holes in their pockets. The BBC reports:

“Communications is at the heart of e-commerce and community,” said eBay chief executive Meg Whitman.

“By combining the two leading e-commerce franchises, eBay and PayPal, with the leader in internet voice communications, we will create an extraordinarily powerful environment for business on the net.”

Skype offers communication that’s nominally encrypted, but as explained in “An Analysis of the Skype Peer-to-Peer Internet Telephony Protocol,” (mentioned before) its not clear how trustworthy their protocol is.

EBay aims to “work closely with law enforcement.” That means they’ll tell all they know (which can be quite a bit) based on a request on letterhead. Which is their choice. But I would move my voice communication somewhere else, somewhere that tried to keep less data, and required law enforcement to make a formal request, through the courts. Checks and balances are there for good reasons.

4 comments on "Skype, EBay, and Communications Privacy"

  • Asteroid says:

    EBay probably wants live voice acutions.

  • The paypal purchase was a seemingly natural match; unlike this…

  • Yeah – I have been trying to see the connection between the businesses.
    Perhaps it is not about ‘voice’ and ‘auctions’ but rather eBay considers its core competencies to be ‘software development’ and ‘customer service’ [plus knowing how to turn a proft]. Many other successful companies may not be able to make this claim (Cisco, Microsoft, Amazon – in that order). If the eBay success can be brought to Skype then there maay be a real telecom revolution. (It is hard to believe that SIP hasn’t already found a huge marketshare.)

  • David Brodbeck says:

    I think eBay’s cooperative attitude towards law enforcement has something to do with wanting to stay on their good side. eBay is quite likely the world’s largest fence, and the last thing they want is to have law enforcement start to hold them accountable.

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