Paris, 12 March 2013
The company Skype Communications S.a.r.l.* (referred to hereafter as “Skype”), which is headquartered in Luxembourg, provides French internet users with services that allow them to make phone calls to or from a device connected to the internet, e.g. a computer or a smartphone, using software produced by another company in the Skype group, Skype Software S.a.r.l.
If not all of the solutions that Skype provides are electronic communications services, this does seem to be the case for the service that allows internet users located in France to call fixed and mobile numbers in France and around the world, using their computer or smartphone.
Here, ARCEP offers a reminder that a company is not required to obtain administrative approval to become an electronic communications operator in France, but only to declare themselves beforehand, pursuant to Article L. 33-1 of the French Postal and electronic communications code (CPCE). A failure to comply with this obligation does, however, constitute a criminal offence.
The fact of engaging in the business of electronic communications operator, and particularly the fact of providing a telephone service to the public, also implies compliance with certain obligations, which include the routing of emergency calls and implementing the means required to perform legally ordered interceptions.
As a result, ARCEP has requested several times that Skype declare itself as an electronic communications operator, which the company has failed to do thus far.
In keeping with his responsibility to ensure that these essential provisions of France’s electronic communications law are upheld, in accordance with CPCE Article L. 36-10, the Chairman of ARCEP has apprised the Paris public prosecutor of these facts, which could be classified as a criminal offence.
* S.a.r.l. = société à responsabilité limité, or limited liability company (LLC)