There is nothing like a government shutdown to shove news to the back burner. Okay, perhaps it’s just the fickle nature of the American people and the news cycle that makes someone like Edward Snowden fall to the back pages of newspapers. Recently, the United States appealed to the government of Ecuador to deny asylum to Edward Snowden, and even more recently a group of four whistle-blowers flew to Moscow in order to present Snowden with an award for his “courage.” Whether or not Snowden remains in the news, the Prism program that Snowden leaked will have ramifications for years.
Presently, the small European country of Luxembourg is investigating Skype in connection to the Prism program, according to a recent report. Luxembourg’s data-protection commissioner, according to The Guardian, is looking into whether or not the Microsoft-owned video calling and messaging service service acted complicitly with the Prism program in sharing information on Luxembourg-based users. The company could face criminal charges in addition to sanctions if found guilty.
Snowden leak was first made public earlier this year
Reports suggest that this is not the launch of an investigation, but rather Luxembourg has been investigating the matter since the Snowden leak was first made public earlier this year. It’s probably a fairly safe bet that Skype is not alone in Luxembourg’s privacy probe. Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and others are certain to also be on the list of those being investigated. Somewhat strangely, violating user privacy is illegal in Luxembourg, but does allow for the sharing of information with other governments if it is deemed allowable by a judicial panel or a prime minister tribunal. The Guardian’s reporting doesn’t mention whether or not Skype received such permissions.
Numerous news agencies have reached out to Skype for more information, but at the time of this writing neither Skype nor Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has made any public comment on the matter. The Guardian, as one of the original sources to break the Snowden story along with the Washington Post, will undoubtedly be covering the Snowden story for some time as more is gleaned from his data dump, and other countries announce their own investigations of companies that may have illegally aided the NSA and other government agencies.