Skype Official Microsoft

Amnesty International has taken a dim view of Microsoft’s Skype and some other similar services. The non-governmental equal human rights organization says Skype is among the worst for privacy and security. In a new document, the group measures messaging services against each other to find the most secure.

“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 International’s Technology and Human Rights Team.

Skype was certainly not the worst, but out of 11 services it came in a lowly 8th. Microsoft’s service escapes special mention as the poorest messaging efforts. That distinction goes to Tencent in 11th, BlackBerry in 10th, and Snapchat in 9th. Yes, the irony of BlackBerry coming 10th is not lost, considering the company paints itself as the king of security.

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“‘Message Privacy Ranking’ ranks technology companies on a scale of one to 100 based on how well they do five things:

  • Recognize online threats to their users’ privacy and freedom of expression
  • Apply end-to-end encryption as a default
  • Make users aware of threats to their rights, and the level of encryption in place
  • Disclose details of government requests to the company for user data, and how they respond
  • Publish technical details of their encryption systems”

The problems with Skype include a lack of end-to-end encryption. Rivals such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger allow private chats that are fully encrypted.

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Apple and Facebook were the big winners of Amnesty’s report. Apple’s iMessage came out on top, with Facebook Messenger in second place.

“Amnesty International is calling on companies to apply end-to-end encryption to messaging apps as a default. This would help protect the rights of everyday people, as well as peaceful activists and persecuted minorities all over the world by enabling them to exercise their freedom of speech. It is also calling on technology companies to publish full details of the policies and practices they have in place to meet their responsibility to respect the rights to privacy and freedom of expression.”

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