Skype has been summoned to a court in Belgium after it refused to allow two suspects’ communications to be wire-tapped by authorities, according to reports on Tuesday.
A court spokesperson said that the question is whether Microsoft-owned Skype should be classified as a telecoms operator. In Belgium, telecom operators would be required to comply with the court’s order or face a fine of up to $26,000, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The two suspects were communicating with one another within an organization. The court hasn’t release any additional details about the suspects or the investigation.
Skype told the WSJ that although law enforcement plays a key role in keeping communities safe, “the legal process should also protect personal privacy, respect international borders and recognize technological differences.”
The case is set to be heard in a court in Mechelen, a town about 20 miles outside of Brussels, on June 10.
With revelations about government surveillance programs being exposed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, communication service providers have had to be especially careful when complying with requests for customer data. In 2013, Microsoft was accused of providing US authorities with access to Skype data. Microsoft has since denied the validity of that report.
Recently Microsoft launched Skype for Business along with authentication and encryption to make business users feel more secure while communicating with the online calling and messaging service.
The case comes as telecommunications companies are fighting to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive market. In 2012, international Skype traffic grew 44 percent to 167 billion minutes, which was more than twice that achieved by all international carriers in the world, combined. In 2013 Skype’s traffic reached 214 billion minutes.