Court summons Skype after refusal to share customer data

Skype blue login screen on a smartphone

Skype will appear in court over its refusal to share customer data in relation to a criminal investigation, it has been reported.

The Microsoft-owned firm declined to help Belgian authorities by providing details of messages and calls between two suspects in a criminal case, according to Reuters.

The VoIP provider argued that it is not a telecoms company, and therefore isn't bound by the country's Telecom Act, which requires telcos to assist police in such cases by handing over data on suspects.

A court from the town of Mechelen has now decided to summon Skype to court, with a date pegged for early June.

A court spokesman told Reuters: "The judicial question is whether Skype is also a telecoms operator."

If so, it would have to give up the data and risk a fine for its lack of co-operation.

The news comes as Microsoft plans its appeal against a New York court ruling that would force it to give the US access to customer data stored in Dublin-based servers.

Cisco, Apple and Salesforce have all pledged support to the tech giant, which argues that data stored in Europe should not be subject to US legal powers.

If it loses the case, the strength of the EU-US Safe Harbour agreement will be undermined.

The deal guarantees that EU-based data will receive adequate privacy protections if it is moved outside the EU.

The news follows whistleblower Edward Snowden's revelations that the NSA, a US spy agency, collected data from leading tech companies to snoop on citizens across the world.