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The government agencies have faced a tough time while tapping into Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, but now a new spying technology empowers these agencies to 'silently record' conversations on Internet chat services such as Skype in real time.
The VoIP services convert audio signals into digital data packets, which is highly costly and complex for third parties to intercept. This is why various countries have chosen to block VoIP services for security reasons. The US' FBI has sought the Internet chat providers to build in 'backdoors' that its agents can use to wiretap suspects' conversations.
A California-based businessman has gained a patent for a 'legal intercept' technology he says 'would allow governments to "silently record" VoIP communications'. Dennis Chang, president of VoIP-PAL, an chat service similar to Skype, claims the technology will enable authorities to identify and monitor suspects only by accessing their username and subscriber data
The patent says chats could also be tracked down by billing records that associate names and addresses with usernames. Such technology will help agencies intercept only audio conversations but 'any other data streams such as pure data and/or video or multimedia data'
As you can imagine, some users who may use false subscriber data and services to hide their IP addresses could manage to circumvent the identification. However, the patent would restructure the way VoIP data is sent over the web, making it easier for the government bodies to track the conversations.
“VoIP services work by digitising callers' analogue voice signals and transmitting them as packets of digital data to send over the internet directly to recipients. Because of the fragmentary nature of the data sent, and the vast amounts of information sent alongside it, it is difficult for any eavesdropper to single out a consistent stream to listen in to,” says DailyMail in its report.
The governments across the world have been looking for new methods to gain access to their citizens' data online. Back in India, the government has directed all the telecom operators providing BlackBerry smartphone services to implement the interception solution offered by Research In Motion by December 31 – a move that is supposed to help the security agencies to keep a check on the possible misuse of the encrypted service.