This past Thursday, Microsoft was given some major props from consumers for the company's new mandate to protect privacy across the board.
Words were stated boldly. Words like these:
"We are taking steps to ensure governments use legal process...to access customer data,” Microsoft reps stated. The company said that in 2014, a number of Microsoft program would be encrypted. Reps then listed a bunch of programs including Outlook, Office, and many others - almost all others.
But, something is strange in all of this. Something called Skype.
Skype Is MIA
In all of Microsoft's grandeur this past Thursday - in all of the company's seeming transparency -- Skype was left out. Skype - the program that people and companies use regularly to share ideas, secrets, and information. The one program that NEEDS to be encrypted and kept from government eyes.
Skype was not mentioned. Peculiar.
Then again, in order to be completely open about Skype and its practices (and to keep the service encrypted, or to encrypt it at all), Microsoft would have to give up everything that Skype provides. Just think about it.
Think about how often you use Skype. If you're a contractor, that's probably daily. Well, Microsoft captures all of those calls, details, and any other bits. The company then uses these pieces to put together a complete puzzle that forms the person that is you. It's marketing gold. Gold that Microsoft isn't about to give up.
A Forced Hand?
Try as the company might to brush the Skype curiosity under the rug, the press isn't going to let this one go. We want to know why Skype wasn't included in Microsoft's long list of programs to soon be protected from prying eyes.
We also want to know what information Microsoft gathers from Skype, and how Skype works internally.
In short, Microsoft might be forced to divulge these details if it wants to keep its Skype audience. But, on the other hand, there really isn't an alternative to Skype, is there? There's the Google video option - but Skype is fast, it's a messenger system, and it's simple. It's also free (ever wonder why?).
I don't see Skype going anywhere. I also don't see Microsoft encrypting Skype data any time soon.
What To Do?
There is one alternative to Skype that I know of. But, it's not free. Silent Circle is a Skype-type option that charges users because this company isn't collecting data. So, if you're the paranoid type (or just don't want Microsoft grabbing your details regularly), go the Silent Circle route. You'll have to pay, but there's always a price for complete freedom, right?
To be fair to Microsoft, though, this isn't the only company collecting data from users (far from it). It just happens to be the only one making public announcements about protecting privacy, and then not including one of the most popular company programs in that loop. If you're going to go the PR route, be prepared for any criticism that comes your way. That's my take. Yours?