Messaging apps Skype, Snapchat not protecting privacy

Smartphone users (Getty)
Smartphone users (Getty)

We all like to think that private messages to our peers will stay exactly that, private.

But a new study by Amnesty International has found several of the messaging services are putting user's human rights at risk and opening users' information up to cyber criminals.

They looked at the data protection of 11 of the world's most popular messaging apps ranking them on the way they use encryption to protect users' privacy,  make users aware of threats to their rights and disclose details of government requests to the company for user data.

Messaging apps Skype, Snapchat not protecting privacy

Amnesty International's Sherif Elsayed-Ali says young people are most at risk because of the volume of messages and pictures they share.

"If you think instant messaging services are private, you are in for a big surprise. The reality is that our communications are under constant threat from cybercriminals and spying by state authorities."

Snapchat stood out as one of the worst in the group. The study found it had no end-to-end encryption which means messages and photos from more than 100 million daily users are not scrambled on their journey from the sender to the receiver.

They were also given zero marks in one area because the app doesn't inform users about its lack of encryption.

At the other end of the scale, the more than two billion users on Facebook owned Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger apps have much better protection.

Whatsapp uses end-to-end encryption by default however Facebook Messenger users should be selecting the "secret conversation" feature if they want to have the same protection.

Standard Facebook Messenger uses a weaker form of encryption which means Facebook has access to all of the data.

Apple also uses end-to-end encryption in iMessage however SMS messages on iPhones are not as secure and Amnesty International wants to the company to tell consumers that.

Apple, Line and Viber are the only three apps ranks that offer end-to-end encryption by default on all their messaging apps.

Mr Elsayed-Ali says they are calling all companies to offer encryption for the safety of consumers.

"The future of privacy and free speech online depends to a very large extent on whether tech companies provide services that protect our communications, or serve them up on a plate for prying eyes."

Read the full report here

Newshub.

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