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Facebook offers the most secure instant messaging services, Snapchat falters: Amnesty

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As the number of services on the Internet continue to grow at light speed(slight over-exaggeration!), the people have become far more fearful and concerned about their privacy. Thus in today’s world, people tend to turn towards and prefer communication services which secure their private info and offer them more robust security features.

In a bid to reduce your effort and time spent on finding that perfect app, Justice group Amnesty International has already analyzed the encryption capabilities of top eleven messaging apps. It has published its finding in a report titled ‘Message Privacy Ranking’ and it crowns Facebook’s carousel of communication services as the most secure as compared to other millennial platforms popular today.

While prepping the report, Amnesty has highlighted end-to-end encryption(E2EE) as the most basic requirement for tech companies to make conversations private. Its research, however, also accommodates transparency data which details how open companies are to requests for data from governments.

Facebook has been ranked highest as WhatsApp and Messenger both provide end-to-end encryption to secure their services. While it is enabled by default in the former, you would need to turn on ‘Secret Conversations’ in the latter. It has also been praised for its transparency and interest in human rights.

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In rankings, Facebook’s instant messaging services(score: 73) are closely followed by Apple’s iMessage(score: 67) & secure messaging app Telegram — who are completely opposed to govt. backdoors.The Cupertino giant didn’t even help the government unlock the iPhone of a shooter, which reinforces their commitment towards security and consumer rights.

Google follows fourth in line because of its helter-skelter approach to communication services. Though its consumer-facing video service Duo and messaging service Allo might be end-to-end encrypted but Hangout’s still holds a questionable stance. It has been able to secure this spot because of its highly transparent stance towards government requests.

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.

Young people, the most prolific sharers of personal details and photos over apps like Snapchat, are especially at risk,

said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Head of Amnesty’s Technology and Human Rights Team.

You’ll find Microsoft and Snapchat hanging out at the bottom rung of rankings due to the non-existence of E2EE. Microsoft-owned Skype has over 300 million active users but it has been a major target of government surveillance worldwide. Snapchat, on the other hand, has a strong commitment towards privacy but doesn’t inform users about how they’re tackling this issue. The report states that the ephemeral messaging feature is probably giving users a false sense of privacy.

If you’re all unaware, Yahoo has recently been battered for obliging to a government request for scanning all of its e-mails accounts to weed out terrorist communications. Commenting on the same, Snapchat has said,

To date, Snapchat has not received any formal government demands for a backdoor but if the day was to come then we would oppose it, just like any other measure that would compromise security.

The report further adds that most tech companies are simply not up to standard when it comes to protecting their users’ privacy. And Gartner has previously also added that digital businesses need to upgrade their technologies, else they’re highly prone to cyber attacks. If the scenario similar to today’s continues, a large chunk of digital businesses will fail by 2020.

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,

said Sherif Elsayed-Ali in the report.

A hands-on guy fascinated by new apps, technologies and enterprise products.

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