August 21, 2013

By: Paul Rosenberg,

Say Goodbye to SkypeYes, it’s time to say goodbye to Skype. It was a great idea, and it still operates well, but it’s time to sever ties.

Not only is Skype plugged directly in to the surveillance grid, but the company is actively contributing to the most complete surveillance system in the history of mankind.

Here’s what has happened recently to Skype, which was originally a fairly secure (encrypted, peer-to-peer) system:

·       In 2009, Microsoft filed a patent on technology for spying on Skype. (Before they bought it!)

·       In November 2010, it was learned that a flaw in Skype allowed hackers to secretly record user IP addresses. As of a few months ago, it still wasn’t fixed.

·       It has been known since 2012 that Skype has made online chats and other user information available to police. (Not just to the Feds, but to local cops.)

·       Skype also allows local cops to examine your addresses and credit card numbers.

·       In November 2012, Skype was reported to have handed over user data of a pro-Wikileaks activist to a private security company called iSIGHT Partners, without a warrant or court order. Once this was revealed, Skype said that they would conduct “an internal investigation.” 

·       In May 2013, it was documented that a URL sent via a Skype instant messaging session was usurped by the Skype service and subsequently used by Microsoft headquarters for information retrieval.

·       Skype, as a participant in the PRISM program, gives the NSA unfettered access to its data center.

I think it is clear that Skype is a surveillance-gathering tool for Big Brother in the first place, and a telephone system second. Yes, it still works, but you can be very certain that Skype is feeding every piece of information about you, the people you talk to, and the people that they talk to, directly to the overlords in DC… and to God knows who else.

These guys are not your friends.

The Replacements

Saying goodbye to Skype means that you need new methods of chatting and talking. No problem – you have options.

We’ll start with chat. Here you have two good choices:

#1 Pidgin

Get the Pidgin is a good chat program which allows you to chat on multiple networks simultaneously. It works with AIM, ICQ, Google Talk, Jabber/XMPP, MSN Messenger and many others.

Pidgin runs on Windows, Linux, and other UNIX operating systems. A version called Adium works with Mac OS.

When using Pidgin, you and your chat partners should also use Pidgin’s OTR (Off-the-Record) plugin, which will give you strong encryption.

Note: Gmail’s Google Chat “Off the Record” is not the Off-the-Record messaging we are talking about here. (Remember, Google and Facebook can only exist by trashing privacy.) Gmail’s “Off the Record” chats are not encrypted, and are all but certainly logged.


The very best way to chat is to do it inside of an anonymity network, which prevents outsiders from seeing who is chatting with, not just what they say. (Pidgin protects the content of your chats, but who you chat with, for how long and for how often, can be seen.)

The only full-spectrum anonymity network is Cryptohippie. Chat is built in to their standard Road Warrior accounts (as are secure email and anonymous voice). You can read the chat section of their FAQ here.


Voice conversations over the Internet are called VoIP (voice over IP). One good VoIP system is Jitsi. Jitsi uses the same protocols as many chat systems, but sends voice instead of text.

The first time you connect with someone using Jitsi, you’ll have to go through an authentication process, to verify that no one is trying to spoof identities. But once you’re done authenticating, you shouldn’t have to do it again. Call quality won’t match that of a wired telephone, but it is more than good enough.

If you want to call regular telephones from your computer using VoIP, you can use a service like DiamondCard. If you pay them anonymously (with Pecunix or Bitcoin), you will retain your privacy… except for whatever you say in your conversations, of course. Remember that all standard telephone conversations are likely to be recorded these days. Big Brother is here, now.

The best option, however, is Cryptohippie‘s new voice system inside their anonymity network. That means that you can speak to your friends and associates through an encrypted, anonymous connection. Not only can’t the call be understood by anyone else, but no one will know who you talked to, for how long, or when.

This system works via computer, but it also works with smartphones. That means that you can be truly secure while talking on your cell phone.

The system actually functions more like a chat system than a regular phone, but it is very easy to use on either computers or mobiles.

Obviously, only calls between Cryptohippie users will remain anonymous. During conversations outside of the network your location would be masked, but your conversation would be accessible to snoops on the other end.

Instructions can be found on the Cryptohippie support Wiki, here.