Voice over IP, a concept that gained traction in the consumer market with the inception of Skype, has been somewhat of a headache for governments around the globe. This is because monitoring VoIP and listening in phone calls made through VoIP is quite hard. However, technology companies are now vying to propose new solutions to this problem.
VoIP essentially turns analog data into digital data, sends it over the internet and then converts it back to analog data at the other end. This peer-to-peer communication is fairly complex which makes it hard for security agencies to intercept or monitor them. Such limitations have been worrying the governments around the globe.
Naturally, governments want to monitor online chats and phone calls to ensure that they are able to keep tabs on dissidents, human rights activists and similar other personnel. I say so, because in the past, governments have consistently used online monitoring and interception tool to target such persons.
Much to the delight of the governments and security agencies, a technology company called VOIP-Pal is now gearing up to develop some kind of a ‘legal intercept’ technology which “would allow government agencies to ‘silently record’ VoIP communications.” The company has already acquired a number of patents to that end.
With this technology, an eavesdropping agency can discern the username and subscriber data of a user and then intercept the calls made and the data shared by that account. Interestingly, Microsoft also owns a similar patent which speaks of a ‘legal intercept’ technology. And given the fact that Microsoft also owns Skype, the possibility that it may be offering government a way to snoop in on Skype calls is disconcerting, to say the least.
The silver lining is that by making use of false subscriber data and masked IP addresses, such monitoring could be possible. Also, given the track record of the open-source community, we can rest assured that once such an interception technology is known, a number of ways would be devised to successfully circumvent it.