EU investigates criminals targeting Skype calls

Criminals are increasingly making phone calls over the internet to avoid mobile phone interception, according to a EU body dealing with organised crime.

A European-wide investigation on internet telephony will be conducted by the group Eurojust in response to Italian concerns that organised crime, arms and drugs traffickers as well as prostitution rings were turning to VoIP such as Skype to frustrate investigations.

Eurojust's role, led by the acting National Member for Italy Carmen Manfredda, will be to overcome the technical and judicial obstacles to the interception of VoIP systems. It will also take into account data protection rules and civil rights.

Manfredda said: "The possibility of intercepting internet telephony will be an essential tool in the fight against international organised crime and beyond.

"Our aim is not to stop users from taking advantage of internet telephony, but to prevent criminals from using Skype and other systems to plan and organise their unlawful actions."

Eurojust also claimed that Skype's encryption system was a secret that the company refuses to share with investigators.

Skype said in reply: "Skype cooperates with law enforcement where legally and technically possible. Skype has extensively debriefed Eurojust on our law enforcement programme and capabilities.

"Skype remains interested in working with Eurojust despite the fact that they chose not to contact us before issuing this inaccurate report."