Mozilla’s latest privacy ranking slams “Privacy Not Included” tag on Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Houseparty

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Mozilla has published the latest installment in its “* Privacy Not Included” ranking, where they dive deep into the privacy features of the most popular apps and platforms.

The latest ranking, covering the privacy features of 21 popular video calling apps, revealed that three of the most popular apps are also platforms that Mozilla researchers say had poor privacy features: Facebook Messenger , WeChat and Houseparty.

Slack has also been criticized by Mozilla for not allowing users to block certain contacts. Signal and Threema were both cited as “exceptional” for privacy, but only Signal is free. Threema costs $ 2.99.

“Signal’s open source end-to-end encryption is praised by many security professionals. And Signal won’t track you or sell your data to strangers who might use it to target you with weird ads. Shoot, it was even recently reported that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself uses Signal, “Mozilla said in its analysis of Signal, noting that it has never had a data breach, only collects your phone number and never sell, rent or monetize your personal data.

The report addresses thorny questions such as “What data does the product collect?” “” Does the product use encryption? And “How does the product use AI?” Fifteen of the apps were covered in Mozilla’s 2020 report, and six new ones were added to the latest version.

Jen Caltrider, principal investigator of Mozilla * Privacy Not Included, noted that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, video calling applications are now part of the routine of millions of people. Even though life is slowly starting to return to normal, video calling for business and pleasure appears to be a pandemic trend that will continue into the future.

“In this new world, people deserve to know whether the apps they use every day respect their privacy or snoop on them,” Caltrider said. “While video calling apps may seem more intimate than social media platforms, a ton of data is still being collected, stored and shared. For this reason, users should assume that anything they say on a video calling app can be made public. “

In addition to the six that stood out for good and bad reasons, Mozilla also reviewed Apple’s FaceTime, 8×8 Jitsi Meet, Cisco’s Webex, GoToMeeting, Viber, Discord, Doxy.me, Google Hangouts / Meet / Duo. , Microsoft Teams, Telegram, BlueJeans, Zoom, Marco Polo, Skype and WhatsApp.

The report explains that Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Houseparty have all been awarded the * Privacy Not Included tag because they collect significant amounts of personal information and data, share it with “shady data brokers” and use poor encryption, among a host of other issues.

Mozilla also criticizes many other apps for not having a blocking feature or for having a limited one that can only be used in specific cases.

“Forcing people to rely on HR or IT to protect them from abuse on messaging platforms is not ideal,” Mozilla researchers said, adding that they had started a petition urging Slack to create blocking functionality.

The report notes that when reviewing privacy policies, many are indeed illegible and lack specific language on relevant issues such as data retention periods and how to delete data.

Only eight of the 21 had what Mozilla considered “friendly” privacy information available to users. They also criticized companies like Microsoft for using general privacy policies that make it difficult to know exactly what data certain platforms are collecting.

“It’s surprising how terrible the privacy policies of video calling apps are. They rarely help consumers understand what personal information a business collects about them and how they use that information,” Caltrider said. ZDNet.

“Loosely worded privacy policies can mean that businesses collect just about anything and use it pretty much however they want. Ouch! Businesses need to do better to be direct, open, and honest with their customers about the data they collect and how they use it. those data. Our privacy depends on it. “

There are signs that more and more companies are improving their privacy features. Mozilla noted that apps like Zoom have added more end-to-end encryption and others, like Discord and Doxy.me, now require more stringent password requirements.

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