Years later, France is still giving Skype a legal headache

This morning, French publication L’Express published an article stating that “Skype doesn’t respect French law and operates illegally.” Except that this is kind of yesterday’s news. Or news from 4 years ago, actually.

Back in 2007, ARCEP, the “French telecommunications police” (or the communications regulations authority, if you want to be politically correct about it) went after Skype for 3 reasons: it failed to allow the inception of calls for security reasons following a court ruling, the way that it routed emergency calls and for distributing mobile phone numbers (SkypeIn) . In other words, Arcep considers Skype to be a telco whereas Skype…well, doesn’t. But this could be because Skype’s doesn’t want to have to adhere to the universal service rules for telcos (which could also apply in other countries) and pay the related taxes.

Skype’s response at the time was simply to close-up shop and run European activities out of good old Luxemburg. But now, several years later, the French Attorney General can finally come after Skype with possible imprisonment and an oh-so-hefty fine of €75,000 (outlined in article L39 of the electronic communications code)  – mainly because of its likely IPO later this year.

In France, it’s not just the government that causes Skype a bit of a headache; operators Bouygues and SFR have reportedly blocked Skype use on all mobile handsets as well as the iPad. Guess that means France hasn’t been particularly good to Skype.