Edward Snowden Warns About Google’s Messaging App “Allo”

Updated on:
7605
New Chat Application Google Allo
Allo released worldwide becoming the first AI infused messaging app that uses machine learning to predict replies with impressive accuracy.

Google officially launched its widely anticipated messaging app, Allo, last September.

The App is poised to become a major competitor of the popular WhatsApp and iMessage.

However, former NSA contractor and whistleblower, Edward Snowden has informed smartphone users to avoid the app due to a number of privacy concerns.

Edward Snowden strongly feels that the smart messaging app could be a honeypot for government surveillance efforts.

It is important to note that Edward Snowden is not the only that holds the same opinion on Google’s new app.

In order to understand the basis of Snowden’s sentiments, one has to understand the nuances of the messaging app.

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What is Allo

Google Allo is an instant smart messaging mobile phone app designed for Android and iOS platforms.

The app was announced in May this year at Google I/O developer conference.

As promised, Google launched the app officially on the 21st September.

Among the main features of the app include a virtual assistant and the “smart reply” feature.

The smart reply function was developed to facilitate the delivery of fast conversations.

Through artificial intelligence and complex algorithms, the app is able to recognize and analyze the user’s responses.

It collects and stores this data over time and utilizing it to guess users’ responses which it then suggests.

This data may also be kept for formulation of personalized ads. As such, it is possible to use the app without even typing.

The problem with the app and that which Edward Snowden and others are worried about is this collection of user data.

Google’s Contribution to the Issue

Google also has a part in fueling these sentiments about their messaging app.

When the company first announced the messaging app in May, they assured users that the app’s “Incognito Mode” should cause no worries about privacy concerns.

At the time, Google stated that Allo employs high-end encryption and the messages users send and receive would be stored transiently, rather than permanently.

However, last September’s announcement was different and revealed that the default mode of the app would result in indefinite storage of user messages.

This issue does not sit well with Edward Snowden and many other smartphone users.

It does raise some questions about Google’s promise to delete user messages. Compounding the situation is the fact that Google failed to formally announce this critical change.

The Main Basis of Edward Snowden’s Fears

Edward Snowden warns the privacy risks of Google's new messaging App, 'Allo'.
Edward Snowden warns the privacy risks of Google’s new messaging App, ‘Allo’.

As it currently stands, Allo users who fail to switch to Incognito Mode bear the risk of having their messages retained.

This could potentially provide fresh farming grounds for government surveillance, something that Edward Snowden is all too familiar with.

As with most chat apps, Allo uses HTTPS as a means to secure transmission between devices.

What this means is the data is safe from most hackers.

However, it is not safe from people with respective clearance to Google’s data centers.

Government agencies can also access this information using a subpoena.

Edward Snowden has always pointed out that subpoenas are not that hard to get.

The United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court approves almost all subpoenas requested by the FBI and NSA.

When Allo is compared to WhatsApp in terms of user privacy, the latter comes out on top.

Conversations in WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted, and government agencies cannot access them even upon request.

What Allo Users Can Do

Individuals who still want to use Google’s Allo despite Edward Snowden’s warnings can do so privately and securely by learning about the Incognito Mode.  VPNs can also help.

In this mode, users will not be able to preview their message in the conversation list.

Also, the chats are end-to-end encrypted and will only be seen by the sender and recipient.

Google will not be able to read any of the messages, so the smart replay and Google assistant features are unavailable in Incognito Mode. Users can set their messages to expire.

Edward Snowden’s views are definitely founded on a considerable basis.

As such, the decision of smartphone users to adopt Google’s messaging app boils down to choice.

They will have to choose between limited compromise to their privacy and improved app usability.

Here are some important privacy/anonymity guides.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. Erminio

    Who the fuck cares I am not going to txt about bomb making or any shit like that

  2. Tim

    Really? Don’t feed the paranoia people. Allo is what it is. A messaging app with an assistant. Normal citizens will not be prosecuted for nothing. If your using the app for criminal activity and get busted well then that’s your fault..don’t be a criminal. Otherwise, the assistant kicks Siri in the butt and makes the tech users who understand how to use allo more efficient communicators. That is what these apps are anyway…communication tools.

  3. Derp

    This article is so last week. Too much copy pasta.

  4. 99% of my texts :
    Wife – what do you want for dinner?
    Me – ? ? ?

    oh noooooo! now hackers know my love for pizza and using the kissy emoji for my wife. Go back to your bunkers with your tin foil hats. No body cares about your daily texts.

  5. David Ramsden

    As far as I was aware Edward Snowden worked for the CIA as a contractor and leaked data. When did he become some oracle figure we should all be referencing before we decide what messaging app to use? Just another attempt to big himself up as I imagine employment opportunities for him in the West must be limited.

    • franz kafka

      exactly my thoughts

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