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Edward Snowden warns against Google Allo, says WhatsApp, Signal are safer

While the world is excited about Google’s new AI-based messaging app, privacy advocate Edward Snowden is warning people against it.

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Yesterday, Google released its long awaited Artificial Intelligence (AI) based messaging app, Allo. Ever since, users have been going bonkers exploring the app, and being amazed by its Siri-like Google Assistant. However, amid all the excitement, privacy advocate, Edward Snowden, isn’t too happy about the new messaging app, and is in fact, warning users against it. Last night, Snowden posted and retweeted on his Twitter account a series of tweets all directed at the privacy issues that come along with Google Allo.

 

Essentially, the messaging app being AI-based, it needs access to more and more information about the user to be able to perform more intuitively and efficiently. Allo’s Google Assistant comes with a smart reply feature, which is in fact one of the app’s high points, and it needs open access to be able to generate suggested responses to a given conversation. On that point, Snowden warns that the messaging app will keep records of every information that a user shares on the app, like content, location, or any other personal information, which Google could possibly share further. He defines Google Allo as, “Free for download today: Google Mail, Google Maps, and Google Surveillance. That’s #Allo. Don’t use Allo.”

Snowden suggests that since Google’s new messaging app has open access, people should still stick with apps with end-to-end encryption, like WhatsApp and Signal. He even tweeted an article about the US foreign intelligence court approving all requests for surveillance last year, hinting that Google Allo could be on the same track.

According to the new policies on Allo, Google by default will store all non-incognito messages on its servers in order to improve its AI bot service, The Verge reports. This report opposes Google’s earlier claims about how the app will only store messages transiently and in non-identifiable form. However, now the records of the exchanged messages will persist until a user manually deletes them or uses the incognito mode. The incognito mode can be enabled to turn on end-to-end encryption.

Even earlier this year, when Google had unveiled the messaging app at I/O 2016 keynote, Edward Snowden had tweeted saying that the people must avoid Google Allo for time being, He wrote, “Google’s decision to disable end-to-end encryption by default in its new Allo chat app is dangerous, and makes it unsafe. Avoid it for now.” Also read: Google’s new ‘My Activity’ dashboard shows just how closely it has been watching you

With the kind of presence Google has in every internet user’s life at present, it is difficult to realize how much information it has stored. Some months ago, Google launched a new dashboard called ‘My Activity’, which shows all online activities of a user such as search history, video searches and places they visited. The new dashboard improves upon Google’ previous My Account dashboard, which allows you to manage and control Google experience on products like Search and Maps. That said, Google’s My Activity dashboard kind of scares you out considering how much of data Google has been registering. It is also already known that Google collects tons of your information, mainly to show personalized ads.

  • Published Date: September 22, 2016 11:40 AM IST
  • Updated Date: September 22, 2016 11:41 AM IST