Italy: Govt probes suspected mafia use of Skype

Rome, 18 Feb. (AKI) - Italy's interior minister Roberto Maroni (photo) has formed a team of security officials to tackle the mafia and other criminal groups' growing use of Internet telephony including computer programmes such as Skype to avoid police wiretaps.

The 'taskforce' of police and computer experts will seek technical and legal means of intercepting suspected criminals' conversations via Skype and other VoIP technologies and making these admissible in Italy's courts of law.

Italian tax police reported earlier this week they had tapped a phone conversation between suspected cocaine traffickers in which one said to another: "We'll talk about those two kilos on Skype."

A top-secret algorithm invented by Skype's programmers encrypts speakers' voices as they are carried over the Internet. No electronic trace of Skype conversations remains.

The software creates a new temporary password for each conversation, meaning Skype conversations are currently impossible to intercept.

Italian authorities make extensive use of phone intercepts in counter-terrorism as well as mafia investigations, political corruption and soccer match-fixing probes.

Conservative Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's government is eyeing legislation that would restrict the use of wiretaps to the mafia and terrorism.


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