Skype's social media accounts hacked in protest against US surveillance

The Microsoft-owned video-calling service had both its Twitter account and its blog hacked by the prolific hacking group

A group of hackers identifying themselves as the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) have briefly taken control of social media platforms belonging to Microsoft-owned Skype.

The blog and Twitter account of the video-call service were both targeted, with the attackers posting messages claiming that Microsoft sells its users’ data to governments.

“Don’t use Microsoft emails (hotmail, outlook), They are monitoring your accounts and selling the data to the governments,” said a message posted to Skype’s blog on 1st January. A similar message posted from Skype’s Twitter account was re-tweeted more than 8,000 times.

The company has since deleted the posts and acknowledged the hack, tweeting “You may have noticed our social media properties were targeted today. No user info was compromised. We’re sorry for the inconvenience.”

The SEA (a group of hackers supportive of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad) are apparently responding to recent revelations over the US government’s capacity to spy on internet users the world over.

Documents leaked by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden showed that Microsoft had actively colluded with the NSA and the FBI to provide “backdoor” access to the company’s services, including email clients Outlook and Hotmail, Skype and the cloud service SkyDrive.

Other leaks implicated the complicity of major tech companies including Yahoo, Google, Facebook and Apple. All the companies accused of giving away their users’ data have since refuted the allegations.

Since the revelations America’s top tech companies have grouped together to publicly decry the US government’s surveillance policies and call for a halt to the “bulk data collection of Internet communications”.

In an open letter published by the Reform Government Surveillance group, companies including Google, Apple and Microsoft claimed that the balance between national security and individual freedom “has tipped too far in favour of the state and away from the rights of the individual.”

“Reports about government surveillance have shown there is a real need for greater disclosure and new limits on how governments collect information,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “The US government should take this opportunity to lead this reform effort and make things right.”

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