French Regulators to Skype: You Are So a Telecom
Looks like Microsoft’s headed for some more unpleasantness in Europe. French regulators are calling for an investigation into the company’s Skype unit for failing to register as a telecoms operator in accordance with local law.
Peeved that Microsoft has ignored its repeated requests to register as an electronic communications operator, French telecommunications regulator Arcep on Tuesday asked the Paris public prosecutor to determine once and for all whether or not the IP telephony unit is ducking its legal obligations.
According to Arcep, the fact that Skype supports voice calls to both hardline and wireless numbers makes it a de facto telephone service, one that must comply with local regulations permitting emergency calls and the monitoring of voice traffic when legally required.
Skype, predictably, rejects that argument. “Skype is not a provider of electronic communications services under French law,” the company said in a statement. Of course, Skype’s opinion of what it is and isn’t is of little consequence here. Ultimately, regulators will determine whether or not the services Skype offers constitute a telephone company, and Arcep’s move today suggests that the interpretation may be evolving.