Skype rats out alleged WikiLeaks supporter without waiting for court warrant
Nov 13, 2012
Say goodbye to online service providers protecting the identities of their users. With just a bit of begging, a Texas-based intelligence firm succeeded in convincing Skype to send over sensitive account data pertaining to a teenage WikiLeaks fan.
Reports out of Amsterdam this week suggest that Microsoft-owned Skype didn’t wait for a court order or warrant with a judge’s signature before it handed over the personal info of a 16-year-old Dutch boy. The youngster was suspected of being involved in Operation Payback, an Anonymous-endorsed initiative that targeted the servers of PayPal, Visa, Mastercard and others after those companies blocked WikiLeaks from receiving online payment backs in December 2010. When hacktivists responded to the blockade by overflowing the servers of those sites with distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, PayPal asked Dallas, Texas’ iSIGHT Partners Inc., a self-described“global cyber intelligence firm,” to investigate.
It appears that iSIGHT didn’t have deals with just PayPal either. Skype is also a client of the online private eye, and they reached out to the chat company for assistance. Normally the court would enter the equation here and write out a warrant to try and track down that information, but the initial report by Brenno de Winter of Nu.nl reveals that investigators skipped that step.
According to English-language transcription of Winter’s account, “the police file notes that Skype handed over the suspect’s personal information, such as his user name, real name, e-mail addresses and the home address used for payment.” While that in it of itself isn’t all that unusual, Winter writes that Skype sent over that information voluntarily,“without a court order, as would usually be required.”