Government Skype surveillance "may be a good thing"

John C. Dvorak, on why Skype backdoors allowing government spying on users is "not a bad thing":

I would not be surprised if one of the reasons why Microsoft bought Skype was to outfit the product with backdoor access for the US government's top eavesdropping agency, the National Security Agency.

This may be a good thing ... Hopefully, Microsoft is in bed with various governments to allow them to listen in on our calls. This sounds crazy, but no. It would be an ironic twist, but if it were the case, Microsoft would be required to keep the quality high so everyone doesn't bail out and go elsewhere.

A wacky theory, but it does make sense.

What's Up With Skype? [PC Mag via Popehat. Photo: Shutterstock]


    1.  If you can point me to an instance where Dvorak’s ever been right about something I might listen to him.

    2. If you guys knew anything about the pro-constitution, anti-tsa, anti-govt spying, anti-govt douchebag podcast that this guy does, you’d have realized that the part you’re highlighting here is completely tongue in cheek. Their outlooks actually heavily align with the views that are frequently expressed by the Boing Boing editors, Cory especially. See my reply below.

  1. Of course the loss of freedom and democracy are tragedies, I know, but consider the entertainment value contained within

  2. Wow, John C Dvorak is still being paid? To write? About technology?

    It must be some kind of error in payroll. I’m sure they’ll take care of it any day now.

    1. “Well, we can’t actually find a record of him being a current employee at PC Mag, and I looked into it more deeply and found that apparently what happened is that he was laid off ten years ago and no one ever told him about it. But through some kind of glitch in the payroll department, he still gets a paycheck.”

    1. Maybe just a rotating selection of tasteful facepalm pictures with a banana thrown in now and again.

          1. @Wreckrob8:
            Totally easy to clap with one hand, just relax your fingers (but not the wrist) and shake it.
            Sounds almost like one hand clapping, only a bit … floppier.

          2. Perhaps it’s time to finally reveal one of the most ancient secrets of the enlightened:

            “The sound of one hand clapping” is a masturbation joke.

  3. I was surprised he’s still around, for some reason, so googled to see what he’s been up to.

    The man is an oracle. A genius. A seer. A blinding beacon of insight.

    6th item:

    Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone
    John Dvorak’s Second Opinion
    Commentary: Company risks its reputation in competitive business
    March 28, 2007|John C. Dvorak

    1. And somebody sees that result, and says Is he fucking kidding me? and clicks the link to find out whether John Dvorak is, in fact, fucking kidding us. And then John Dvorak goes, “cha-ching”.

  4. The same way Microsoft has incentive to keep the quality of Windows high to prevent users from migrating to Macs, right? By that reasoning, everybody would be on a Mac right now.

  5. Hopefully, Microsoft is in bed with various governments to allow them to listen in on our calls.

    Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

    Oh, you actually have one. Um, never mind.

  6. Please don’t forward this article to my girlfriend. It would be the end of cyber-sex for me.

  7. government perverts just want to watch all the sexy sexy private chats.

    i use skype as my main phone, and know for a fact that the government would be bored senseless listening to my calls.   maybe i’ll have to start dropping watch words randomly into conversations.

  8. The man has a point, sort of. People are twittering and facebooking like their life depends on it, so for what I see around me, people don’t seem to mind having no privacy. If eavesdroppping would be Skype’s business model, too few of us would care to make a difference.

    1. Correction: people don’t mind no privacy, when they’re doing something publicly.

      Like how when you call across a crowded room to a friend, you likely don’t expect privacy either.

    1. News Of The World tried that. Turns out nobody really give a fuck who you listen to until you target a missing child.

  9. From what I’ve read, governments can already tap Skype. Don’t know details.

    However, claiming that Skype doesn’t provide a spying API was German’s federal police’s lame excuse to hire some shady programming company for writing an all-inclusive, unsecure, and badly coded trojan, which did everything the law and Germany’s constitutional court explicitely forbid. (See

    A software may or may not have a backdoor. But does your jurisdiction have rules about how to deal with that? And does your country have some mechanism to control the use or abuse of this?

  10. Actually, the converse of his argument is true.

    If the call quality is high enough, it’s trivial to do hardware-based encryption at either end, a-la 2-way radio squelch. Not only is he a stooge of the state’s most Orwellian  ambitions, he’s woefully misinformed.

  11. Survey SAYS



    Microsoft will be required to do nothing but keep their mouth shut; once compromised, once the thirty pieces of silver are paid, it’s on to the next holdout, and you’ll be used to bend their arm, too.
    Quality has zero to do with it. Better quality is Apple – a US corporation, thus compromised; Google Talk – a US corporation, thus compromised; Cisco – (pattern repeats ad infinitum)

  12. The fact that Dvorak is a washed up moron aside, his ‘thesis’ appears to be missing a very important detail…

    Is Microsoft allowing the Feds to eavesdrop on Skype? Well, let’s see… Is a major corporation with a great deal to lose in the US violating the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994 in their operation of a VoIP network, or are they sticking their neck out in order to defend the freedom of all those customers using their service for free and/or peanuts?

    Gosh, I wonder…

    Now, are all of Microsoft’s competitors, aside from niche cryptogeek stuff with minimal market penetration and a steep learning curve, subject to the same laws when doing business in the US? Why yes, yes they are.

    Therefore, Microsoft is letting the feds eavesdrop on you and this does not create any competitive pressure to make the service better. Have a nice day.

    1.  Dvorak’s articles are just trolling for pageviews. That’s been his schtick for years and years.

  13. John Dvorak is one of the biggest trolls in the world. Talk about a pageview whore.

  14. LOL seriously?
    “Since the public doesn’t seem to care much about snooping one way or the other, though, it’s silly to complain about it.”

  15. Skype let’s the government listen to us? That’s it, everyone start phone sexing each other on Skype. Make sure it’s obviously legal, but really dirty.

  16. This is classic Dvorak.
    1. Say something outrageous.
    2. Collect massive page views of outraged people
    3. Profit!

    Don’t give him your eyeballs, folks. He is a troll, in every sense of the word.

  17. Maybe the guy is trolling. View whoring. But even if he doesn’t actually agree with what he’s saying, he’s still harming the case against it. People will take it seriously and agree with it. Fuel to the fire.

  18. You idiots, this blog was put up there so that the spies could collect data on you responders.  If it were true, Microsoft is getting paid to develop a voice recognition technology that actually works. Think of all the unemployable dingalings that will be added to the payroll just to listen to selected very boring conversations.   Rather than spending all that money to spy on me, wouldn’t the government be better off just giving me money to be on their side?

    As any nefarious self-respecting malfeasant knows, don’t talk in the men’s room in Canadian airports except about what’s going on in stall 8.  And be sure to load up your iPhone with all your subversive contact information so that they can read it at the border crossings.

    No wonder Big Corp is taking over the world – we pay taxes so that Bozos can diddle with our lives.  I would say that Big Corp might run the show better, but as anyone who has ever worked for Big Corp knows, they’re not Bozos, they’re F***ups of the first magnitude.

  19. You guys realllly don’t get this do you? He basically just called out all of the people who whine about privacy and spying left & right, then continue using stuff like facebook and other services who’s business models are based on spying on you. Then says that the situation sucks because everyone depends on Skype and it’s the best at what it does, even though it regularly has issues, followed up with a tongue in cheek theory that the silver lining is Microsoft making the service better so that the government can hear you clearly and you won’t leave for another service. LOL.

    There are obviously a loooot of people here that don’t listen to the No Agenda podcast (which he co-hosts) which is very anti-big government, anti-spying, pro-constitution. The humor of his comments are lost on you internet literalists.


  20. Wow, so much JCD hatred. Give me a break internet gurus… if your opinions were so on-point then I’m sure people would know your names but oh – they don’t do they?

    I might not always agree with JCD’s conclusions or opinions, but the guy knows things about tech that only decades of following it can teach you. He’s a semi-regular guest on TWiT, where he elicits an equally bi-polar response from the fan base. Sometimes he says face-palmers and sometimes he say insightful things you would have never heard had it not come from him and his decades of contributions to tech journalism.

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