Work chat apps have become essential for many workplaces and, when it comes to collaborating at work, few apps are more popular than Slack and Microsoft Teams. The two are known for helping teams communicate, share files and exchange the occasional gif reply. (Okay, more than just occasional.) But, like most modern apps, it may not be entirely clear just what sorts of privacy and security (or lack thereof) you’re subject to when you use an app like Slack or Microsoft Teams.
We’ve reviewed both Slack and Microsoft Teams in the past as part of our Privacy Not Included guide. You may not have a choice in which you’ll use at work but you should at least know what privacy you may be giving up. Here’s how the two work chat apps stack up against each other.
Is Slack slacking on providing you proper privacy? Here’s the company’s approach and what others are saying:
Slack’s privacy page emphasizes a few points. Here are some of the most notable:
- Owners of a Slack space (such as an employer, if you use Slack for work) can export, edit and delete data.
- Those using Slack’s paid tier can set how long data sticks around for. (Fun fact: companies that pay for Slack have the option to see all versions of an edited or deleted message!) But free Slack users don’t have to be left out of the fun. A blog post on the password manager Dashlane’s site notes that companies that don’t pay to use Slack can ask for a one-time export of a user’s conversations. And Vox points out that employers can unearth private Slacks to fight a legal case.
- The Slack privacy page notes that data is encrypted in transit (on it’s way to Slack servers) and at rest (while it lives on Slack servers). But even though the data is encrypted, it isn’t end-to-end encrypted. Mic notes that, because of this, employers that pay for Slack Plus can export a copy of users’ Slack activity — DM’s and private channel conversations and all.
- Mozilla Foundation privacy Researcher, Misha Rykov notes that, weirdly, Slack doesn’t allow you to block users. This isn’t as much a privacy concern as it is a problem if you’re dealing with harassment on the app.
The takeaway: your employer can definitely request your Slack conversations — even the ones that seem like they would be private. If you haven’t read our piece on if your boss can read your Slack DM’s, check it out for a solid primer.
There’s no “i” in Teams and there certainly isn’t much privacy either. In the privacy section of Microsoft’s “Welcome to Teams” guide, you’ll learn the following:
- Microsoft collects a lot of personal data about meetings, such as conversations, voicemails, recordings, transcriptions and shared files
- Microsoft collects a history of the calls you make within Teams
- Microsoft can share this personal data with third-parties. Examples of this include Microsoft sharing this data with contractors or with law enforcement when mandated
When we reviewed Microsoft Teams as part of *Privacy Not Included, we felt that Microsoft’s security track record could use some work. Back in 2021, a hack compromised the data of 30,000 U.S. companies.
If your messages wind up as part of a legal investigation, then yes, your private Microsoft Teams messages can be unearthed. This includes chats in Teams channels, chats with a single person or with a group of people. This also applies to audio recordings, edited messages and even gif and emoji reactions.
ZDnet calls attention to Microsoft Teams’ user activity reports feature. The feature allows employers to browse by employee and see stats like number of meetings, messages sent, one-on-one calls, audio and video time, even how much time they spent participating in meetings. Think Google Analytics but for monitoring workers.
Slack makes it easy for employers to read your private messages, but Microsoft Teams takes employee surveillance to the next level. Teams offers employers easy access to stats about what you’re doing on the platform via its user activity reports dashboard. The dashboard shows how much time you spend messaging others, participating in calls and even how much you’re screen-sharing. Invasive!
You should be wary of both Slack and Microsoft Teams but Teams is teeming with privacy worries for the average employee. Work wisely.
Slack Vs Microsoft Teams — Which One Is Better For Your Privacy?
Written by: Xavier Harding
Edited by: Audrey Hingle, Carys Afoko, Innocent Nwani
Art: Shannon Zepeda
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