Web

Terms & Conditions: Skype’s limits on ‘unlimited,’ blocked countries, forbidden uses and more

terms & conditions skype voip

Check out the full Terms & Conditions archive.

When you think of online video calls, the first thing you probably think of is Skype. And now, thanks to being purchased by Microsoft, the service is in front of more eyes than ever. But because Skype’s business is international by nature — cheap calls to other countries are a main reason to use the service — its terms of service are a bit more complication than many other companies. Fortunately, Microsoft has given Skype’s terms and privacy policy a total revamp to make them easier for users to digest. But since we all know you’re probably not going to look at them anyway, let’s break down the most important bits.

Terms of Use

The Skype Terms of Use is a behemoth, so we’re going to keep this limited to only the most crucial aspects of the service.

Emergency calls

Right at the start of the terms, Skype explains that it does not provide access to most emergency services, like 911 here in the U.S. Because of this, the company makes very clear that Skype software is “not a replacement for your primary telephone service,” and that “it is your responsibility to purchase… traditional wireless (mobile) or fixed line telephone services that offer access to emergency services.”

The only counties where Skype users can access emergency services are the U.K. and Australia. Still, Skype warns that trying to make an emergency call through a computer is probably a bad idea, so do it some other way, if at all possible.

Careful what you say

Skype explains that, basically, you can say and do whatever you want over a Skype call. However, just for safety’s sake, the company technically forbids users from doing the following while using Skype:

  • Transmitting copyrighted content
  • Saying anything obscene, libellous, threatening, or otherwise criminal
  • No porn
  • No advertising
  • No spamming
  • No hurting children
  • No denial of service (DoS) or distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks

If you do any of these things, and Skype finds out about it (through a user report, or it ending up on YouTube, etc.), your account will probably be blocked.

terms conditions skype credit

Pay up

Call rates: While calls made with Skype are often less expensive than those made using a mobile phone or a landline, it still costs money. Unless you pay for a Skype subscription, you will be charged a connection fee, as well as the per-minute rate for your call. (See those rates here.)

Skype Credits: To pay for Skype calls, you have to purchase Skype Credits. However, if you don’t use those credits for 180 days, they will go into “inactive” status. To reactivate your Credits, log in to your account, and click here.

Refunds: If you buy Skype Credits, you can get a refund for unused Credits within 15 days. After that, you can only get a refund if you’ve purchased a Skype subscription.

Wrong number

If the no emergency services access thing wasn’t enough to make you realize that Skype shouldn’t be your only phone, there’s also this: Your Skype phone number (either an Online Number or Skype to Go Number) are not yours. You may not transfer them to another phone — in fact, you’re forbidden from even trying to do that. So don’t.

Unlimited (kind of)

If you’ve purchased a Skype unlimited subscription, beware that your calls are not actually “unlimited” — after two hours of gabbing away, you’ll have to hang up and redial.

No Skype for you

A number of countries or Internet service providers (ISPs) have blocked VoIP services like Skype altogether. These countries include places like Ethiopia, a number of countries in the Middle East, some Mexican ISPs, and a number of Asian countries.

Fortunately, here in the U.S., we have the Federal Communications Commission’s Net neutrality rules, which prohibit ISPs from blocking VoIP. But if you live in a place without such rules, it’s your responsibility to find out whether Skype is legal or allowed. Annoyingly, Skype does not provide a definitive list of which countries and ISPs block VoIP services.

terms conditions skype banned

Privacy Policy

Skype has done a fine job of making its privacy police nice and clear. But like the terms of use, it’s a massive document that could be distilled down even further.

What Skype knows

The company says simply says that it “may gather and use information about you,” and has outlined quite a few examples. However, it says that it might collect more information about you than what it details here, which is just slightly disturbing. Still, I suggest you take a look at the full list. But here’s a brief rundown:

  • Identification info (name, address, email, telephone number)
  • Credit card info
  • All profile data (age, gender, country of residence, etc.) 
  • Content of instant messaging communications, voicemails, and videomails
  • Location data from your smartphone or mobile carrier
  • URLs that appear in your mood message
  • IP address
  • List of contacts

Why it needs to know

Skype explains that it only collects your data to provide its services to you, or improve its services. But that’s not the whole story here.

Skype’s business itself is not based primarily on advertising, which means that the company will never “sell, rent, trade or otherwise transfer any personal and/or traffic data or communications content.” However, because Skype is owned my Microsoft, you are effectively handing over that data to the Big M and its subsidiaries. This also means your non-personally identifying data (age, country of residence, etc.) might be used to serve up target ads through Microsoft Advertising and a list of other ad networks.

In short, if you use Skype, you are entering into the vast Microsoft business ecosystem, which reaches far and wide. To opt out of receiving targeted Microsoft Advertising, click here. To opt out of Skype-specific ads, click here.

Taking charge

If you want to edit or delete your personal information, you may do so through your Skype profile. Any IMs or voicemails through Skype will be deleted after a period of 30 to 90 days, unless a the government or court has properly requested that Skype retain the data, or Skype needs it to fulfill some aspect of its service.

Conclusion

Overall, Skype’s terms and privacy policy are fairly straight forward, especially considering its many functionalities and the vast geographical spread of its users. Considering the number of countries that have banned VoIP service, however, it would be helpful if Skype made it easy to find out which countries are on the list, especially for the many travelers that presumably use Skype to keep in touch while abroad.

Emerging Tech

‘Guerrilla rainstorm’ warning system aims to prevent soakings, or worse

Japanese researchers have created a "guerrilla rainstorm" early-warning system aimed at preventing severe soakings, or worse. The team hopes to launch the system before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Computing

Everything you need to know about routers, modems, combos, and mesh networks

Modem vs. router: what's the difference? We explain their functions so you can better diagnose any issues prior to contacting technical support. We also talk about a few variants you'll see offered by ISPs and retailers.
Smart Home

Amazon Echo Dot vs. Echo Dot Kids Edition: What’s the difference?

The Echo Dot Kids Edition combines a free year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited with a two-year, worry-free warranty. But is the Kids Edition really all that much different than the regular Echo Dot?
Gaming

Here’s how to set up a virtual private network (VPN) on your Xbox One

Online privacy is more important now than it's ever been, and gaming is happening online more than ever before. Here's a quick guide on how to set up a VPN for your Xbox One so you game in safe anonymity.
Computing

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for a service without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses via one of these handy services.
Computing

Chrome is a fantastic browser, but is is still the best among new competitors?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.
Computing

Microsoft extension adds Google Chrome support for Windows Timeline

The Windows Timeline feature is now much more versatile thanks to the added support for Google's Chrome browser. All you need to do to increase its functionality is to download the official Chrome extension.
Movies & TV

Here’s how to watch the 2019 Oscars livestream online

The 91st Academy Awards will air live on ABC, but there are also a number of ways to watch Hollywood's biggest night online using your mobile device, desktop, or set-top streamer. Here's how to catch the Oscars livestream.
Computing

YouTube changes its strikes system, offers softer first-offense penalty

YouTube announced changes to its strikes system for its content creators. The changes include a softer first-offense penalty for creators who violate YouTube's guidelines and more consistent penalties for further violations.
Computing

An experimental feature could help reduce memory usage in Google Chrome

Google Chrome might be the most popular web browser, but it also is a resource hog. Google is currently working on an experimental feature for Chrome which sets out to reduce its overall memory usage. 
Computing

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. The best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.
Computing

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

Though there are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, finding a solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here are the best PDF editors for your editing needs, no matter your budget or OS.
Web

Rid yourself of website notification requests in just a few easy steps

Wish you knew how to block browser and website notifications? You can do it on a case by case basis, but that can become dull after the 10th site has asked for your approval. Here's how to block them outright.
Computing

Don't take your provider's word for it. Here's how to test your internet speed

If you're worried that you aren't getting the most from your internet package, speed tests are a great way to find out what your real connection is capable of. Here are the best internet speed tests available today.