Trouble in France for Microsoft's Skype Unit

A French regulatory agency has taken a step forward in the process that could end up bringing criminal charges against Skype, the voice over Internet protocol, or VoIP, provider owned by Microsoft , according to a statement released by ARCEP, the French telecommunications regulator.

ARCEP has accused Skype of failing to register as an electronic communications operator in France, as all such companies are required to do. ARCEP said it has "requested several times that Skype declare itself as an electronic communications operator, which the company has failed to do so far."

Electronic communications operators in France must make themselves available for the routing of emergency calls and for making the means available for legally intercepting communications, also known as wire taps.

In light of Skype's refusal to register, ARCEP said it has turned the case over to the Paris public prosecutor, who could classify Skype's non-action as a criminal offense.

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