France to investigate Skype's legal status

March 15, 2013 at 5:31 PM
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PARIS, March 15 (UPI) -- French prosecutors say they will investigate the Internet call service Skype for failing to register as a telecommunications company under French laws.

In France, a telecommunications company must register with the government and accept certain conditions, including allowing police to monitor calls, before it can operate in the country.

France's telecommunication regulatory agency, Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes, has maintained that as a service allows people to make phone calls, Skype should be considered a telecommunications company, even though the calls travel over the Internet rather that traditional telecommunications channels, Radio France Internationale reported Thursday.

ARCEP, said it has asked Skype Communications, based in Luxembourg, "to declare itself an electronic communications operator," and that the company has refused to do so.

Skype, a subsidiary of Microsoft, has responded by saying as an Internet-based service it does not come under the purview of French communications laws.

Skype utilizes a system called voice-over-Internet protocol, or VoIP, to enable conversations and video conferencing over the Internet.

European Union law does not consider VoIP services to be telecommunications companies.

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