MICROSOFT-OWNED Skype has lost its appeal against a 2016 fine for failing hand over customer data in relation to a criminal investigation in Belgium.
Last year, Microsoft was handed a €30,000 fine because it denied Belgian authorities access to data from calls and messages. It appealed the ruling, arguing that it is not a telecoms company and is not therefore bound by the country's Telecom Act.
The firm also claimed that, as it was not a telecom operator, it did not have the technical capability to comply with the request.
"Law enforcement plays an important role in keeping communities safe but the legal process should also protect personal privacy, respect international borders and recognise technological differences," Microsoft told INQ at the time.
The firm suffered a legal set back this week after the court of appeals in Antwerp on Wednesday rejected Skype's appeal and ruled that it must pay the fine. The court said that Skype was "indisputably" a telecoms operator, according to Reuters, and that references in Belgian law to "telecommunication" included "electronic communication".
It also reportedly dismissed Microsoft's argument that Luxembourg, where Skype's servers are based, could block such co-operation, adding that it could be possible with "necessary technical adjustments."
"An operator or service provider who targets Belgian consumers on the Belgian economic market must comply with Belgian regulations and must organize themselves in such a way that they can easily comply with the court's claims," the court said in its decision.
Microsoft has said that, following the ruling, it is considering further legal options.
This not the first time that the Microsoft has refused to hand over confidential customer data, as Microsoft is currently embroiled in a battle with US authorities concerning access to information stored on its servers in Ireland. µ
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