Before video call features came standard on mobile phones (shoot, almost before mobile phones), there was Skype. Launched in 2003, the former king of video calls has added features in an effort to keep up with the booming video call competition — recently they even partnered with the new Space Jam movie so you could have Lebron James in your background. Skype lets users blur their background for extra privacy, use real-time language translation and unlike some of the other apps on our list, call regular phone numbers. The video call app is owned by Microsoft these days, which means Skype integrates with services like Microsoft Teams.
What could happen if something goes wrong?
Skype has had some privacy concerns in the past, most notably when it came to light that Microsoft, which owns Skype, allowed contract workers in China to listen in to Skype calls with "no security measures" in place. It has since changed this practice, but it is a good reminder that even companies with decent security practices can handle your private data and conversations sloppily. Because Skype has been popular for a number of years, it has become a target for malware and phishing attacks. Users are able to set up two-factor authentication on Skype, which we recommend to help keep that conversation you're having with Grandma from being invaded by some angry troll. Skype doesn't use the stronger end-to-end encryption on phone or video calls, which, boo! Users can protect their text chats by enabling “private conversations.” Microsoft does collect a fair amount of data and says they may share this with third-parties like Facebook and Verizon for advertising purposes. It also says it combines data with third-parties such as data brokers, which can include your location. This isn't great. It’s also, unfortunately, not uncommon.
What can be used to sign up?
Users can sign in with their email or phone number. Skype also recently added a feature called Meet Now that allows anyone to create and share a Skype call without signing up for Skype via a Meet Now link they create on the Skype website.
What data does the company collect?
Contacts and relationships, and communications, including audio, video, text (typed, inked, dictated, or otherwise), in a message, email, call, meeting request, or chat.
How does the company use this data?
How can you control your data?
What is the company’s known track record of protecting users’ data?
In January 2020, it was reported that Skype was using contractors in China to listen to Skype calls with allegedly no security measures in place. The company also shared login credentials of users with contractors. The company spokesman claimed that the company ended its grading programs for Skype. Also in January 2020, a report revealed that 250 million Microsoft customer records, spanning 14 years, had been exposed online without password protection.
Can this product be used offline?
User-friendly privacy information?
It was difficult to find answers to some essential questions. For example, which type of data is collected, or what are data retention periods. In addition, the policy is for all-things-Microsoft, so it is difficult if impossible to find Skype-specific info.
Links to privacy information
Does this product meet our Minimum Security Standards?
Calls and video calls do not have end-to-end encryption. Chats are not end-to-end encrypted by default, but this feature can be enabled for so called 'Private Conversations'.
No password-protected meeting feature exists for Skype. For log-in to Skype. a strong password is required.
Microsoft pushes regular security updates to its communication products
Microsoft has a bug bounty program for security vulnerabilities
With Skype’s translation features, Skype collects and uses your conversation to provide the translation service. With your permission, your data may be used to help improve Microsoft products and services. To help the translation and speech recognition technology learn and grow, sentences and automatic transcripts are analyzed and any corrections are entered into Microsoft system, to improve the product.
Is this AI untrustworthy?
What kind of decisions does the AI make about you or for you?
Is the company transparent about how the AI works?
Does the user have control over the AI features?
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