Wednesday, 26 October 2016

SumTips: 10 Facts on Encryption and Human Rights from Amnesty International

Mobile chatting
Amnesty International recently released a report ranking 11 technology companies on encryption and human rights.

The results reinforce what we already know:
  • Encryption helps protect people’s human rights online.
  • Encryption stops cybercriminals from stealing our personal information, and helps prevent unlawful government surveillance of our communications.
  • There is virtual consensus among expert technologists and cryptographers that it is impossible to put in place a system of special access that could only be used by the intended state authorities. If a backdoor exists, others–criminals, malicious hackers, or other governments–will also be able to access it.

…and remind us that there is still work to be done:
  • Only three of the companies assessed–Apple, LINE, Viber Media–apply end-to-end encryption as a default to all of their IM services. Of these, none are fully transparent about the system of encryption they are using.
  • In five cases Amnesty International found a gap between policy and practice: for example, Microsoft has a clear stated commitment to human rights, but is not applying any form of end-to-end encryption on its Skype service. 
  • All of the companies, with the exception of Tencent, have stated publicly that they will not grant government requests to backdoor the encryption on their messaging services.
  • Apple is a powerful advocate for privacy and security and is applying a strong form of encryption to its services. However, Amnesty International found that the company could do more to tackle these issues from a human rights perspective and inform its users about the threats to their human rights and the way that the company is responding.
  • Facebook deploys end-to-end decryption by default on WhatsApp, but not on Facebook Messenger.
  • Telegram Messenger, Kakao Talk and Google Allo do not warn users when using weaker encryption.
  • Snapchat and BlackBerry Messenger offer no commitment to freedom of expression and make no policy recognition of online threats to human rights.

Know what your chat app can do for you, surf secure and stay Rando!


Image credit of Shutterstock.com.
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