Skype Journal Test

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Skype refuses British order for emergency dialing

Skype refuses to comply with 999 ruling. Andrea-Marie Vassou quotes a Skype spokesperson:

"At this time, Skype is not complying with Ofcom’s ruling, as we believe that it is not applicable to our software offering and in fact potentially harmful to public safety.”

I don't know enough about UK law to comment on whether the General Conditions of Entitlement for VoIP applies to Skype. Potential harm is straightforward, though.

The issue is data quality and authority. Landlines, and VoIP systems like Vonage that emulate them, have a single location they can report to emergency services.

One person's Skype account, on the other hand, can be in many places at once and anywhere in the world. I could dial 999 from my laptop in Los Angeles but Skype would have no way of knowing my street address or that the call should be routed to LA 911 instead of London 999 operators.

From the Skype and Emergency Services page on Skype.com:

Skype and Emergency Services

An emergency call is perhaps the most important call you will ever make. We care about your safety and want to provide you with complete information about emergency services.

  • Skype is little piece of software that enables a rich communications experience - an entirely new way to communicate online. Skype offers affordable prices and innovation that are years ahead of what a traditional phone service offers.
  • Skype is not a replacement for your landline or your mobile phone. Skype does not offer you the ability to call emergency services for help if you are in distress.
  • When calling 911 for help, mobile phones can identify your location within a 300 meter range and sometimes even closer. This enables emergency service operators to find you or call you back if the call drops. Landline phones will dispatch help to the address you provided when you subscribed to use the phone company’s services.
  • If you are a SkypePro or SkypeIn subscriber, using your mobile or landline phone for emergency calls is still required since Skype does not know your physical location and is unable to assist emergency services.

From Skype's Terms of Service:

1.1 No Emergency Calls: More important than anything: please remember that Skype does not support any emergency calls to any type of hospitals, law enforcement agencies, medical care unit or any type of emergency services of any kind. Skype is not a traditional telephone service or a replacement for Your primary telephone service. There are important differences between traditional telephone services and the Products. You need to make additional arrangements in order to access emergency services. It is Your responsibility to purchase, separately from the Products, traditional wireless or fixed line telephone services that offer access to emergency services. If, with Your permission, another user uses Your User Account or the Business Control Panel, it is Your responsibility to inform that user that it is not possible to support or carry emergency calls using the Products.

From the Skype End User License Agreement:

3.6 No Emergency Calls: The Skype Software is not intended to support or carry emergency calls to any type of hospital, law enforcement agency, medical care unit or any other kind of Emergency Service. You acknowledge and agree that: (i) Skype is not required to offer access to Emergency Services under any applicable local and/or national rules, regulation or law; (ii) You must make additional arrangements to access Emergency Services and it is Your responsibility to purchase (separately from the Skype Software), traditional wireless or landline telephone services to obtain such access; and (iii) Skype is not a replacement for Your primary telephone service.

6.2 Specific Disclaimer Of Liability For Emergency Services: SKYPE DOES NOT PROVIDE CONNECTIONS TO EMERGENCY SERVICES VIA THE SKYPE SOFTWARE. NEITHER SKYPE NOR ITS OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES OR AFFILIATES MAY BE HELD LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGE, OR LOSS, (AND YOU HEREBY WAIVE ANY AND ALL SUCH CLAIMS OR CAUSES OF ACTION), ARISING FROM OR RELATING TO YOUR INABILITY TO USE THE SKYPE SOFTWARE TO CONTACT EMERGENCY SERVICES, AND YOUR FAILURE TO MAKE ADDITIONAL ARRANGEMENTS TO ACCESS EMERGENCY SERVICES IN ACCORDANCE WITH PARAGRAPH 3.6 ABOVE.

What do you think Skype should do?

tags: , , , ,

Follow Phil Wolff on Twitter or FriendFeed or on Skype.

Labels: , , , , ,

3 Comments:

At September 24, 2008 at 6:14 PM , Anonymous Jan Geirnaert said...

ask skype if they report - in compliance with x,y,z regulation - to governments and forensics department via the alledged backdoor. ask skype why the dual login without notification is still in place. how conveniant... ask Skype owned by Ebay, a public listed US company, should not comply with regulations that have brought the echelon network, magic lantern in place. Ask skype if they can trace down a terrorist or criminal on their anonymous network. Skype is the perfect one time pad, because anybody can be anybody, over and over, login after login. Many have discovered that. Skype is a lialibity for safety and security from this perspective, but so are the other anonymous websystems. Yet Skype should follow regulations, just like all others in the market.

 
At September 25, 2008 at 12:50 AM , Anonymous J.A. Watson said...

To follow up on your example, the advertisers who deliver locally-oriented content to me have no trouble determining if I am in L.A. or London - but Skype has "no way of knowing" it?

To look at it another way, what you (and Skype?) are apparently saying is that because a Skype user MAY be mobile, it is not possible to be 100% certain where they are located, and if it can't be 100% accurate, then it shouldn't be done at all? If that is the case, and given that Skype video hangs, audio distorts, presence is random and totally unreliable... then Skype should simply shut down, as they are not able to perform to 100% accuracy. I am certainly not saying that would not be a good thing, but I think it is unfortunately unlikely to happen.

jw 25/9/2008

 
At September 25, 2008 at 8:56 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is all seem very strange to me that Skype can tell if you are buying Skypeout credits from another IP address and then BLOCK your Skypeout but the cannot give the location where an emergence call was made from, something not quite right here me thinks.

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home