Is Skype Spyware?

You may know that I’m a fan of Skype. We’ve been having some email conversations about Skype and if it’s spyware or not. I decided (per request) to post my reply to the question here:

I’ve heard some of the same claims re: skype=spyware. I did a search in Google on “skype spyware” and a lot came up. However, as I worked through the first page of results, I couldn’t confirm the validity of most that claimed it was spyware. I did find this article that seemed pretty honest about it all (including quotes from the CEO of Skype and their business model) from silicon.com

At least according to that article, the claims come because the Skype CEO also came up with Kazaa. However, he says that although Kazaa allowed spyware, Skype does not. Skype makes it’s money through add-ons like voice mail and SkypeOut (you pay to call non-skype members).

On the other hand, this group says it is spyware. However, my reading of that warning doesn’t tell me much. Read it for yourself and see what you think. As I read it, they say it’s spyware because it’s a P2P program. However, their instructions on what to do about it are lacking. It almost seems (to me anyway) that they say Skpye=P2P therefore it is spyware (the assumption that all P2P software are spyware).

I also did searches on cNet and ZDNet and didn’t find much more.

Writing personally here, I’ve been experiencing a slowdown on my laptop. However, I’m not convinced it’s because of Skype. In fact, every time I run Ad-Aware, I get the same amount of bugs in there that I’ve always gotten. I don’t attribute any of them to Skype.

My personal opinion is that it’s safe. However, I could be wrong. I’ve talked with our office “security guy” and he doesn’t have a problem with it. I keep my virus protection up to speed and run Ad-Aware or Spybot occasionally.

At this point, I personally don’t feel Skype is any different than installing something like AIM on my computer.

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  • Skype in no way, shape or form, is spyware. It can use a fair bit of resources on an older PC, which could cause slowdowns, but other than that it just saves you $$ from the moment you start using it.

    http://www.skype.com/help/faq/index.html

  • The key phrase in the warning is the following:

    In an organization, can degrade network performance and consume vast amounts of storage. May create security issues as outsiders are granted access to internal files.

    Computer Associates warnings are usually directed to large corporations, where P2P applications like skype (and emule, bearshare, kazaa, etc.) shouldn’t be working. If everyone at work ran P2P software on their desktops, it would severely “degrade network performance”.

    Don’t worry about the spyware warnings, though. It’s nothing to be concerned about.