To Skype or nor be allowed to Skype

This is an article i read in the NY times today ----I am sure most of us who live here in France and have family in far flung places ----use Skype ---- to me it is a life saver ---- and it means i can ring any of my family at any time and spend as long as I wish talking to them ----

Most of my calls are to the USA, Ireland , Netherlands and England and Grand Cayman Ils ------ it means that i can access people at little cost ,but now the French Government are putting a spoke in the wheel ----- what do you think?

Celeste, what model is your handset, does it work well, can you recommend it, is it wifi or do you have to plug it in?




"...why is France the country that is about to try and change the arrangements?",

Because it can not get rid of totally overstuffed administrations where even different departments are sometimes contradicting each other. Sarko couldn't, Hollande can't. It's almost as if a majority of the population does have a problem with their subdued rebellious childhood where reality meets wishful thinking.

ok...taking on board your early comments...why is France the country that is about to try and change the arrangements? And if France is so concerned about companies doing as they should and complying with rules and regs...then maybe look at France organisation that has no competition...provides a poor service...frequently...unless its only us they pick on. I dont see any ministers beating a path to their door to improve their customer what they are supposed to do (we had no phone, no broadband...5 months on...and nothing apologies...took a charming well educated university professor...a neighbour of go into one of their stores and threaten violence to get anything done....but then again, they are a French I guess they dont come in for a basting...

Marie, "theregister" reported about the built-in back-door.

Is it not rather amusing that French authorities want to know what "security agencies" from other countries are harvesting about their people. Does France have anything to hide or is this skype thing like this SWIFT monster?

Such trifles are usually waved through everywhere in the EU. If they fail domestically the entire issue become a EU issue. There it will pass and we can all moan about the nice bureaucrats in Brussels. This is then again liked by our local heroes because they can pretend they are still in full possession of all national jurisdiction. Funnily there can be whatsoever costly decisions, which will never generate the revenues they cost us to implement, but for the compensation we have the taxpayer and he is silenced with "austerity". Its this opium of social equality that is little by little falling apart.

Brain, this is why it is political! Why governments even allowed a company like Mickysoft to become so big??? We all know what is too big to fail!

Having said this, I don't think it is very wise registering a business here in France when you have international clients. For what reason? Your business should never be based on patriotism. After all, there are more secure conditions in other countries where confidential company internals are respected in a less "flexible" framework of existing laws. I think with each liter petrol, each pound of butter and all other products purchased here most ex-pats contribute more then they take from France. So why care about skype and a little bit local French hot-air when using a sat-based ISP... Well, then one day even a satellite dish will be taxed...

The catch, and probably why they ignoring it, is that if they register they will have to pay a licence as a registered operator. That is probably going to mean that in France it would become a paid for service.

The backdoor is most certainly there. It always is with any service, I think we all know it but it remains unspoken. The emergency calls bit is a bit strange because it kind of presupposes a user cannot use a telephone which the vast majority of internet service users do. So, a bit arbitrary but no harm if people can, so no big deal.

For all of that, ARCEP was 'alerted' by FT a couple of years ago. It made no news at all in France, but two German newspapers plus der Spiegel reported it of the things I read, and presumably others. They are obsessed with Merkel surcharging everything and reacted in a bit of a tizzy about it. The Public Prosecutor can only investigate 'Skype Out' but would need to go to Skype via Microsoft France. That puts them up against the might of an international corporation. FT have already shown their faces as they move into the international telecommunications market and are sabre rattling because they wish to be a big internet operator too. There is far more to it than meets the eye.

I am not sure how this turned into a political discussion. Whether France, UK or USA there are fixed term legislatures in which minority governments can sit it out. That is new in the UK and people are furious because the government may well have been out by now. However,' what you votes is what you gets', at least if a French national, here in France. The Skype issue affects me a lot. I use it daily, often several times, have more than one Skype address in fact, my other half ditto and our younger daughter keeps up with friends and family elsewhere using it. We know very few of our French friends who do not use it. I simply think it is less talked about here but then the French are also very different in attitude to mobile phones. There is hardly a moment you can't see them, but they do not talk about them, the ins and outs of which new one they want to upgrade to and so on that is so normal elsewhere.

The Skype issue is being approached as if it was actually political. Actually, despite there being a number of companies, France is actually trapped in a telecommunications monopoly situation. France Telecom very much rules the roost and more or less dictates what every other company can or cannot do. Whilst it is a state controlled company it enjoys enormous autonomy and has directors and managers who are earning large amounts of money to make large amounts of money. They are keeping all possible competition at bay by whichever means, fair or foul, which appears to be at the hands of government because it placed in the hands of the regulator. It is totally unfair and there are serious doubts about French regulation within the Council of Europe's experts on these matters. The other question is though, if 'France' does decide Skype requires a telecommunications licence whether they would be able to fight that out against Microsoft's international lawyers or, on the other hand, would it set off a chain reaction because Skype has been question elsewhere, including the UK some years ago. If VOiP services like Skype are massively attacked by their competitors then it may be an own goal if they do not provide alternatives, however those are going to require a great deal of research and development in order to create a network comparable with Microsoft's one, because rest assured that if Skype is kicked into the long grass Microsoft are not going to too willingly offer access to their network.

So, let's forget Hollande or any other head of state, and let us think about those CEO's of large telecoms giants behind this. Here in France they hide behind the political fa├žade and let the politicians collect the flack. They want the money (and surely their bonuses for new services) and that is where attention should be turned. So all of the things you say it will affect in the UK, it will also affect here, not so big businesses who appreciate the free service, academics working together, medical specialists in big hospitals and so on. It would be the same list as you could write there. The big difference is that whatever is happening is happening here and should be used as a clarion call to people everywhere before the same happens. Apart from that, will it happen here? Time will tell but by then there will probably be another government and it will still land in their laps.

There is so much more interaction in the UK..I do believe this firmly. I used to work for charities and when something was mooted that would badly affect charities...we would contact local MPs and put forward our arguments...which was always two way traffic...even as an ordinary individual, when something has occured and Ive contacted my local MP...(am talking about half a dozen areas Ive lived in) Ive always had replies and entered into a discussion with the MP. Contacting our MP locally in France...or the designated MP for certain services....writing in French...zilch...never had a reply, may as well not bothered. Look at some of the ideas that have been mooted in the UK...I mentioned the minimum charge for a unit of alcohol...this was something the Tories decided would have a huge impact on alcohol related illness.....but because of the lobbyists...and the backlash in part from MPs whose constituents are unhappy, the idea is dropped. This is how modern government should work...its not a case of voting in a party and then off they go at a tangent.

Hollande was voted in more as a negative vote for Sarkozy....the general populace now seems to be regretting voting in Hollande... Its very much not the case that in all countries a government doesnt last for the full term....when you have MPs who need replacing and the vote constantly is going the other way...there are mid term elections called. India...Dubai (who dont allow Skype to be downloaded)....are countries you would expect governments to over ride what the public want...

Whilst a government may not be voted out the UK they would most def. backtrack in the UK and drop the people power would exercise its power and Skype would maintain as a VOIP service.

My original comment was regarding Skype and the apparent decision by France to try and tax it. Not Germany, not Italy, not UK......but France. In the last few days Ive returned to France and had some interesting discussions in the queue at Stanstead and on the plane. Discussions with business people who are giving up living in France because its become impossible to run a small business and make money. France has been anti business for some time; the possibility to make a good living in for instance the UK running a small business (in relation to the tax you will pay) is good. I can set up a business and will pay tax on my revenue...I dont need to pay to register as a business first.....the amount of red tape is much less than in France. You only had to read about the number of French nationals entering the UK after Hollande was voted in, to understand how people with business acumen viewed the likely effects life under the present incumbent would be. I believe the UK is more flexible. I dont have a problem with people having a different view...but am aware that for me, working in the UK, paying my taxes there and being in France for less than 6 months every year....I am better off. Which brings me back to will be interesting to see how this pans out.

This is now going off-topic, I'm not sure about the rules about this on a network like this! The UK is not influenced by 'the man on the Clapham bus', it is influenced purely by those with power. As much as you and I would like to think that we, with a collective voice, can change things, the sad fact is that, unless we have connections to those in power, we are pretty much redundant.

All countries effected by the 'Global Recession' are doing their best to get out of it. France is doing no more a hash of it than the UK!

The UK are hugely influenced by voters comments and action....look at Cameron recently, all fueled up to put a minimum price on units of alcohol.....backtracking is normal in the UK...which is not always a bad thing...after all....we vote them in to act for us.... As far as France being the only country to look at blocking or taxing VOIP services....I have no idea about other countries....but my experience in France has been every possible way to get further revenue is exploited.

I find your belief that the UK (any political party) values charity over revenue intringuing. It certainly hasn't been my experience when working with charities. There are, of course, a number of charities that have immense power. The advent of the internet has completely muddied the waters about revenue received and the taxation of this revenue.

If you are right, and it is just France who is trying to block VOIP services, we can sleep well knowing that laws in France only take a few decades to come to fruition!

Believe me, the UK would not have been the ones to do this...ever. Any government that would suggest something along these lines in the UK would be voted out immediately. Charities use skype for business meetings...apart from individuals....I think this is very much about France Eleanor.

I think that France is willingly being used, by the European Union, as the first european country to challenge all VOIP services. No country wants their citizens using a service / company where the revenue earned is not taxable and therefore not beneficial to the said country. This isn't about France per se.

Good post because we will, whatever decision is reached, more or less all affected. I am fairly with Davids opinion. To send now in their "fonctionnaire gang" which are suddenly called "Investigators" is just not going to work. They will only burn money...

Anyway, what if everybody is using such services like tooway with a UK based IP and then being out of French jurisdiction?Then those, groomed in an environment of protectionist laws which encourages laziness against the cruel competition, will out themselves as short sighted dreamer. Still, for me it only becomes really critical if nagging is all it needs to draft new laws in telecommunications because people are too lazy to live up to more cost-effective tools. I certainly do not like skype as it is simply to intrusive, but taking it from people because one institution is jealous on another one in harvesting data is going too far.

French mobilefon operators are living for over a decade completely in a cloud-cuckoo egg and have not done the least for necessary improvements that would meet the technical developments which are available to everyone. They just block access, and that's it! FT (Orange) operates in over 220 countries and thats where their revenues have gone (probably with nice properties for the managers), but they did not invest in the improvement of domestic infrastructures to be competitive to such things like skype, - which by the way is the is not respecting any of your privacy...

About Secure VoIP calling, free software, and the right to privacy you can find here:

Why is it always France trying to put a spoke in the wheel? and just an expat (Im back next week so I count!) I feel that the French Government are trying to make life more difficult for non French......discuss....

There is a similar system by a company called designed for multi conferencing, but the free service allows 3 way discussions, both on video and voice. Use it for discussions with my daughter at Sheffield Uni. Works well!


SKYPE is just one user of VOIP. I get a similar service as part of my package from Orange. This is just a dispute about revenue between infastructure companies and those who profit commercially from an infrastructure they have done little to either create or maintain.