Skype fined €30,000 for not giving user data to Belgian authorities in criminal investigation

Skype lost a legal appeal in Antwerp, Belgium, on Nov. 15, and now has to pay the fine of €30,000 for not supplying Belgian authorities with information requested in an investigation dating from 2012, writes Reuters.

The company was asked to deliver user messages and authorize a tap on calls between members of a criminal organization. Skype said it was technically impossible to access that information due to the encryption deployed, so it only gave metadata to law enforcement. The court claimed it was still possible to intercept the communication “with necessary technical adjustments,” but no other details were provided.

For failing to comply with the request, Skype was fined by a court in Mechelen in 2016 under Belgian telecommunications laws. Skype challenged the fine in court, claiming its servers are based in Luxembourg, although the data was from Belgium. Also, the company said it is a software provider and not a telecommunications provider, so telecommunication laws should not apply to the case. The court rejected the argument and Microsoft announced it is looking into further legal options.

According to Belgian newspaper Nieuwsblad.be, the decision says “An operator or service provider who targets Belgian consumers on the Belgian economic market must comply with Belgian regulations and must organize themselves in such a way that they can easily comply with the court’s claims”.

In the next year, the EU Commission is expected to issue legislative guidelines on sharing digital evidence between countries in the EU.

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