Privacy Advisor

ITALY—Skype Explains Account-Closing Procedure

March 1, 2013


By Rocco Panetta

Skype will enhance the accounts’ closing procedure is what the company ensured to the Italian Data Protection Authority (Garante) in a note sent at the end of 2012 in response to the authority’s request for explanations regarding the reasons why Italian users meet so many difficulties when deciding to close their accounts.

Skype recognizes that the indications of the FAQ—according to which, “once created, it is not possible to delete a Skype account”—do not inform the users properly, and for this reason, they will be amended in order to clearly explain that accounts can be definitively blocked at any time simply by contacting technical support. Moreover, the company is studying how to improve the system in order to allow users to close their accounts independently.

However, the company explained that the accounts will not be deleted in a definitive way but will be stored into the company’s system in order to avoid that other users, in the future, might choose—intentionally or not—the same name. This is the reason why several additional explanations are needed with regard to both the type of data which will be held by the company after the account closing and the times and modalities of such retention.

Based on the above, the Garante decided to raise the issue before the Article 29 Working Party, which gathers up all EU data protection authorities.

Rocco Panetta is an Italian lawyer and partner of Panetta & Associati Studio Legale in Rome. He is the former head of legal at the Italian Data Protection Authority and a member of the IAPP Europe Advisory Board.