Popular messaging app Snapchat has finally introduced end-to-end encryption to its services in a bid to prevent videos and photos shared between its users from being intercepted by others.
In 2016, Amnesty International ranked Snap Inc – the parent company of Snapchat – as one of the companies taking least action on messaging privacy.
It claimed: “Although (Snapchat) has a strong policy commitment towards privacy, in practice it does not do enough to protect its users’ privacy. It does not deploy end-to-end encryption, for example, and is not transparent in informing users about the threats to their human rights or its use of encryption.”
The Telegraph reports that previously, not only were the snaps – pictures and video messages which disappear after being watched – unencrypted, they would also be stored in the company’s server for up to 30 days if the intended recipient was unable to receive messages, leaving them vulnerable to hackers.
Amnesty International describes end-to-end encryption – a way of scrambling data so that only the sender and recipient are able to see the content – as “a minimum requirement for tech companies to ensure that private information in messaging apps stays private”.
The article also reports that currently the encryption only applies to snaps, and that other forms of messages such as text message and group chats are not end-to-end encrypted on Snapchat.
Snapchat security engineer Subhash Sankuratripati was quoted as saying that the new feature would ensure “increased assurance around privacy to our users”, and that the company plans to introduce end-to-end encryption to text messages and group chats in the future.
WhatsApp had introduced full end-to-end encryption in 2016, and soon after Facebook Messenger followed suit. Although users have to enable the feature on Facebook Messenger, it is turned on by default on WhatsApp and Snapchat.