Apple, Facebook Rank High on Messaging Privacy While Skype, Snapchat Score Low
A new report from Amnesty International accuses Snapchat and Skype owner Microsoft of failing to adopt basic privacy protections on their instant messaging services.
The organization’s new ranking scheme assesses 11 of the most popular messaging apps on their use of encryption to protect users’ privacy.
Facebook and Apple rank as the two highest on the list. Facebook, which owns Messenger and WhatsApp, scored 73 out of 100. The two messaging services are the most widely used in the world, with 1 billion users each. WhatsApp messages, photos, etc. are encrypted by default. Messenger communications can be encrypted but the feature is not turned on by default.
Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime have end-to-end encryption turned on by default. The company scored 67 out of 100 in Amnesty’s ranking. However, Amnesty warned that the encryption doesn’t guarantee security, citing research from Johns Hopkins University that found “significant vulnerabilities” that could be exploited to decrypt iMessages. Apple also scored high because of its twice-a-year transparency report.
Skype and Snapchat got 40 and 26 out of 100, respectively, with neither service offers end-to-end encryption. Microsoft-owned Skype and Snapchat both disclose government requests for user data.
Google was ranked near the middle for its varied messaging services: Hangout, and the new Allo and Duo.