In a story that has been developing over the past several weeks, The Guardian disclosed last week that Microsoft has been providing the National Security Agency with access to recorded data collected on Skype, which was purchased by Microsoft for $8.5 billion in 2011.
The files provided by Edward Snowden illustrate the scale of cooperation between a number of Silicon Valley companies and the intelligence agencies over the last three years. They also shed new light on the workings of the top-secret Prism program, which was disclosed by the Guardian and the Washington Post last month.
Microsoft has collaborated closely with US intelligence services to allow users’ communications to be intercepted, including helping the National Security Agency to circumvent the company’s own encryption, according to top-secret documents obtained by the Guardian. In the past, Microsoft has been evasive when asked about the privacy of communications over its popular VOIP platform, but these disclosures have blown the lid off Microsoft’s credibility on the issue. In fact, the recent statement by Microsoft’s general counsel, attempting to rebut the Guardian’s reporting, stated that, “going forward, it assumes Skype calls will be regarded just like any other phone call – mobile or landline.”
It should now be perfectly clear that using Skype for any telemedical communications involving Protected Health Information (PHI) is a prima facie violation of the HIPAA Security Rule.
As our Chief Technical Officer has pointed out, both here and on our website, securevideo.com, we do not record any communications which use our service. All contact between practitioner and patient is direct and unmediated, so there is no way that it can be intercepted or reproduced. Your Protected Health Information is truly protected here.
Stephen C. Taylor