The EU's criminal justice branch is to investigate ways in which law enforcement agencies could listen in on voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone calls.
The Eurojust unit announced on Friday that it would begin an investigation into methods which such organisations could employ to tap calls on systems such as Skype.
The move is part of an effort to stem what law enforcement groups see as a growing reliance on VoIP as a more secure means of communication than conventional phone systems.
Italy's Direzione Nazionale Antimafia first requested the investigation after
police in Milan claimed that local crime syndicates were using Skype for
communications, and that enforcement officials had been unable thus far to
decrypt the communications.
While the investigation will be focused in Italy, Eurojust said that it would assist any enforcement group from a member state in similar efforts.
"The possibility of intercepting internet telephony will be an essential tool in the fight against international organised crime within Europe and beyond," said EU acting Italian national member Carmen Manfredda.
"Our aim is not to stop users taking advantage of internet telephony, but to prevent criminals from using Skype and other systems to plan and organise their unlawful actions."
This is not the first instance of government agencies looking to tap VoIP services. A report in October suggested that the Chinese government was looking for ways to listen in on Skype calls.
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