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'If you think instant messaging is private, you're in for a big surprise'

Amnesty International said more must be done to protect internet privacy.

Image: PA Wire/PA Images

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL HAS hit out at apps such as Snapchat and Skype for not adding end-to-end encryption security to their messaging services.

The human rights group new ‘Message Privacy Ranking’ assessed 11 companies with the most popular messaging apps on the way they use encryption to protect users’ privacy and freedom of expression.

Amnesty Ireland Director Colm O’Gorman said it is imperative that companies continue to strengthen their privacy policies.

If you think instant messaging services are private, you’re 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.”

Messaging service WhatsApp recently added end-to-end encryption on their service meaning conversations are completely private and cannot be accessed from an outside source.

Phone stock WhatsApp introduced encrypted messaging earlier this year. Source: PA Archive/PA Images

End-to-end encryption is a way of scrambling data so that only the sender and recipient can see it.

Amnesty said it should be be a high priority for tech companies to protect the users of their applications.

O’Gorman added: “It is up to tech firms to respond to well-known threats to their users’ privacy and freedom of expression, yet many companies are falling at the first hurdle by failing to provide an adequate level of encryption.

“Millions of people are using messaging apps that deny them even the most basic privacy protection.”

Amnesty International is calling on companies to apply end-to-end encryption to messaging apps as a default.

They said this “would help protect the rights of everyday people, as well as peaceful activists and persecuted minorities all over the world”.

You can view the report here.

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