Have you heard of Allo yet?
According to Edward Snowden, if you want to avoid giving law enforcement the green light to check out all your communications, don’t use it.
“What is #Allo? A Google app that records every message you ever send and makes it available to police upon request,” the whistleblower tweeted.
Tech giant Google has been working hard to infiltrate the virtual chatting world, launching Spaces, Duo, and most recently, Allo, all in the past couple of months.
On its site, Allo is described as “a smart messaging app that helps you say more and do more. Express yourself better with stickers, doodles, and HUGE emojis & text. Allo also brings you the Google Assistant, preview edition.”
But not everyone is biting. According to YourStory.com:
At least to start with, Google Allo has been very amusing to try out. As a messaging app, it has nothing major over the favourites — certainly nothing so compelling that it would make users switch over. Some tickers and emojis, a ‘whisper’ feature to increase text size when one feels in the mood to yell, and drawing over images. Users aren’t going to flock over to Allo, figure out its settings and notifications and get used to a new environment for that, especially when everyone they know isn’t there either.
But there’s one thing that may certainly draw you in. The “smart” app gives users the choice of sending end-to-end encrypted messages, which means only the users can see the messages. Becoming increasingly popular among instant messaging apps, the mode is not automatically activated by the app, so Allo users seeking out added security can choose to chat in “incognito” mode.
But Snowden seriously warns against it. Considered one of the world’s best experts on privacy, Snowden claims the app “records every message you ever send and makes it available to police upon request.”
If you don’t opt for the incognito mode, messages sent back and forth through Allo will be encrypted between it and Google. This means that the company has access to what is being said in all of those conversations.
While iMessage and Whatsapp provide the end-to-end encryption of messages automatically, Allo makes it more of a process, and, perhaps, is tricking you into giving up valuable information because you’re simply not used to having to turn the feature on.
“By default, it (Allo) is less safe than @WhatsApp, which makes dangerous for non-experts,” Snowden explained. He recommends Tor and Signal as safer alternatives.
FBI Director James Comey and other law enforcement officials worry that end-to-end encryption could allow criminals and terrorists to “go dark” because companies don’t have the ability to access the valuable encrypted content, regardless of a warrant.
But freedom advocates and tech experts are happy there’s been an increase in secure encryption for consumers, as it supports their efforts to heighten privacy and cyber safety.
The Allo app also lets Google join in to conversations, giving nearby restaurant suggestions and weather updates. The premise of the app is to keep users inside Allo — an all-inclusive app for planning things like where to eat and things to watch. It even allows users to chat in different text sizes in order to put significance on some messages over others, and gives suggested responses based on the users’ tone and personality.
Whether it’s something that intrigues you or not, if you’re cautious of your privacy, taking Snowden’s advice may not be a bad idea.
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