Whistleblower Edward Snowden has come out advising smartphone users from engaging with the new Google messaging app that they unveiled at the just ended I/O conference.
The new app, Allo, has been termed as a snooping technique and bot for Google by most privacy experts. Allo is an end to end encryption app that Google recently launched. The app was launched at the just ended Google I/O Developer Conference, which took place last week in California, outdoors. The app uses AI integration that Google will bring to it. This gives users the ability to send any custom message they want, and Allo will be able to use it to analyze previous chats from the users message history. Allo can analyze images and chats in your history and send messages and replies for users just as they would normally do manually.
Allo’s end to end encryption was only inserted as an opt-in feature rather than a default setting as with other messaging apps. The company also added the incognito mode on the app just as it has with its browsers. The decision to not make the end-to-end encryption option default is the one that caught the former NSA contractor’s attention.
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.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) May 19, 2016
Edward Snowden thinks the app is a privacy nightmare and tweeted so to his followers on the reasons why he thinks so. Snowden said that the decision to make end-to-end encryption feature an optional feature for users was particularly bizarre especially since the leading messaging apps on the market at the moment such as WhatsApp and iMessage put the feature as default.
One of the engineers for the Allo program said that he had wished they had put the end to end encryption on always on. He wrote the thoughts on a blog post, where he also said that he wished that users could opt out of the clear text messaging. His comments were removed soon after. To Snowden and the rest of the privacy experts, this is definitely a sign that Google removed the feature for a specific reason.
Lesson: Bosses read blogs
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) May 20, 2016
Clearly there is something fishy about the Google project if all these allegations are to be believed, but for now, it’s better to heed Edward Snowden’s advice and stay away from the Allo messaging app until you know what it is really about. As other reporters and analysts continue to work on the app and see how it works its best to heed the advice for now.