How safe is IM?

instant messenger applicationsI came across an interesting read for you webfolk... I have always maintained that the web has no privacy whatever... someone can find out what you do here...

Facebook Chat is the least secure and privacy-protective of the lot. As far as we can determine, it fails to use encryption to protect logging in (thus passwords can be gleaned) and fails to secure the conversations, too. We'd like to tell you more about Facebook Chat, but the company sent us a one-line e-mail message saying it was refusing to answer the same questions that its competitors did with little fuss.

Secure logging-in Secure convos Logs of user logins Logs of msg content how long Govt wiretapping
AOL AIM Yes Yes Yes No Won't say Won't say
AOL ICQ Yes No Yes No Won't say Won't say
Facebook Chat[1] No No Refused to answer Refused to answer[2] Refused to answer Refused to answer
Google Talk Yes Yes[3] Yes No[4] Four weeks Won't say
IBM Lotus Sametime Yes Yes Yes Configurable Configurable N/A
Windows Live Msgr Yes No[5] No No N/A Won't say
Skype Yes Yes Yes No "A short time" Cannot comply with wiretaps[6]
Yahoo Msgr Yes No Yes No As long as "necessary" Won't say

[1] Over the course of a week, Facebook refused to reply to questions.

[2] Facebook has said both that chat history "is not logged permanently" and that it is archived for 90 days.

[3] Encryption is on by default for the downloadable client, off by default for the Web, and not supported with the Google Talk Gadget.

[4] Configurable: users can choose to log conversations in their Gmail chat archives if they wish.

[5] Conversations are unencrypted, but files exchanged via Windows Live Messenger are encrypted.

[6] Skype was the only IM company that said it could not perform a live interception if presented with a wiretap request: "Because of Skype's peer-to-peer architecture and encryption techniques, Skype would not be able to comply with such a request."

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