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Popular Messaging Apps ‘Failing to Protect Users’ Privacy’ claims Amnesty International

If you think instant messaging services are private, you are in for a big surprise as our communications are under constant threat from cybercriminals and spying by state authorities

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November 2, 2016: Amnesty looked at eleven of the most popular messaging apps and found big variations in security. Facebook messenger and WhatsApp were best with a score of 73/100.

“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 cyber criminals 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 International’s Technology and Human Rights Team.

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He added, “WhatsApp uses a very strong encryption. It does a very good job by telling people what kind of encryption it chooses and how it protects people’s information.”

Conversely Skype, owned by software giant Microsoft, and Snapchat performed poorly. Elsayed-Ali said, “They don’t use end-to-end encryption which is essentially a kind of encryption that means only the sender and the receiver is able to read the messages.”

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Snapchat disputes Amnesty conclusions and says privacy and security are what it calls foundation values. Microsoft told VOA in a statement, “Skype uses encryption and a range of other technical security measures and we protect people’s privacy through legal challenges advocacy and strong policies to notify customers when we receive government requests for data.”

Amnesty says it’s not only personal privacy at stake. According to Elsayed-Ali, “Journalists all over the world who are trying to uncover corruption trial and abuses by government, activists who are resisting repression in their countries are being actively sought out by their governments who are trying to find their information to disrupt their work and often to imprison them or prosecute them.”

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Items like cars and home appliances are increasingly been connected to the internet, the so called Internet of Things (IoT). According to Amnesty, “There will be sensors everywhere with the Internet of things, maybe tens or hundreds of billions of sensors in our homes and in our cities. Listening in, collecting information all the time and if we don’t protect privacy now with things like very strong encryption, then there will be no privacy in the future.”

Bottom of the Amnesty’s rankings was the Chinese firm Tencent which owns the messaging apps WeChat and QQ. It scored zero out of 100. (VOA)

 

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  • mercerie

    Apparently, they don’t know very much about privacy. If the did, they would have picked Threema, which doesn’t generate metadata and can be used without a phone number.

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Indian Rights Group, Amnesty International Raided By Indian Authorities

The government says its restrictions on rights groups and their “donor-driven activism” were merely to hold them accountable.

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Indian Authorities Raid Amnesty International Office. VOA

India’s economic intelligence unit on Thursday raided the southern Indian office of rights group Amnesty International, alleging it violated laws involving foreign funding.

The raid started in the afternoon and was continuing into the night, group spokesperson Smriti Singh said.

The Enforcement Directorate accused Amnesty International of bypassing Indian laws and illegally receiving 360 million rupees ($4.86 million) from abroad for its activities in the region, according to the New Delhi Television news channel.

 

amnesty international
An undated supplied image from Amnesty International claiming to show children playing near a fence at the country’s Australian-run detention centre on the Pacific island nation of Nauru.VOA

 

Singh said the group would issue a statement after the raid was over in its office in Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka state.

Human Resources Development Minister Prakash Javadekar defended the government raid, saying it aimed to stamp out any illegal activity.

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government took office in 2014, thousands of humanitarian and rights groups have lost their registrations to receive foreign funding, effectively shutting many down.

amnesty international
Salil Shetty

Thursday’s raid came two weeks after Indian authorities conducted searches in the Bangalore offices of environmental group Greenpeace and other establishments associated with it.

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The government says its restrictions on rights groups and their “donor-driven activism” were merely to hold them accountable. (VOA)