In 2008, Skype said it didn't have the ability to help the government wiretap calls. The reason: the company's technology relied on peer-to-peer networks rather than servers under its control. Over the past few years, though, that has started to change, with Skype moving to a new cloud infrastructure which relies more and more on the company's own servers to do the heavy lifting. There's no question that opens up new possibilities for Skype, and that's what the company is highlighting today.
In an official blog post, Skype VP Mark Gillett explains how the move away from P2P allows everything from more battery life for smartphones (since they don't have to do as much computing locally) to persistent video and chat messages that you can receive even when you aren't logged in. Skype will also soon synchronize chat message status across devices, so you won't get bombarded anew each time you log in from a different machine.
However, it's hard to read Skype's blog post without thinking about what the company was accused of earlier this year: helping US government agencies listen to private audio and video calls via the controversial PRISM surveillance program. If it was true in 2008 that peer-to-peer technologies made such wiretaps impossible, was it worth trading that for a little additional stability and functionality? That's an legitimate question. Privacy and utility are often at odds: the more a company knows about you, the better service it can provide