Reuters is reporting that Skype is in a bit of trouble with the Belgian state. The company has evidently failed to hand over customer data in response to the Belgium’s request regarding a criminal investigation. Belgium argues that Skype is a telecoms operator, and thus under legal obligation to provide this data.
But is Skype a telecoms operator? Perhaps, though certainly not in the traditional sense. Although it shares similarities with the companies like AT&T and Verizon – entities who, in some form, have been around since the 1980s – Skype was born in the era of the Internet, walking a blurry line between telecoms operator and software vendor. With Skype, customers can indeed place simple phone calls. However, they can also talk to each other via video messaging, and everything the service offers can be done over WiFi. Additionally, Skype explicitly states on its website that it is “not a replacement for your telephone and can’t be used for emergency calling.”
Skype is, of course, a property of Microsoft, who bought the company in 2011 for $8.5 billion. We’ll have more on this as it develops.