Google's Allo isn't safe, says NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden

While Google announced that Allo would support end-to-end encryption, that feature will be presented as an option to users.


Google announced two new messaging apps - the text-based Allo and a video-calling app called Duo. While Google announced that Allo would support end-to-end encryption, that feature will be presented as an option to users, and will not be on by default. This has prompted a negative response from none other than NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

https://twitter.com/Snowden/status/733253324301053952

According to Snowden, Google should have activated end-to-end encryption by default. Popular messaging apps such as Telegram, Apple FaceTime, WhatsApp among others have end-to-end encryption turned on by default. Snowden calls it 'dangerous' and has stated that the app should be avoided for now.

According to a Google spokesperson, Allo has been designed without encryption by default to ensure smooth interaction with Google Assistant, Google's chatbot that will use the company's enormous user data to provide users with helpful suggestions to their queries. Since these queries made on Assistant would run on Google's servers, it isn't possible to offer default end to end encryption said the Google spokesperson.

This hints at the fact that using the Allo app in the 'incognito' mode or encrypted mode will not give you access to some Assistant features.

In fact, one Google engineer even posted on his blog about Google's decision to keep default end-to-end encryption out of the equation altogether. The engineer, Thai Duong, later removed the text from his blog questioning encryption in Allo, which was also tweeted by Snowden.

Allo was announced at Google I/O 2016 last week. Allo comes with some interesting features like Whisper Shout and more that lets you add more emotion to your chats. With Google’s Assistant built right in you get smart replies (smart suggestions) that will not only suggest quick replies to chats and pictures, but also be contextually aware as well.

The replies or “suggestion chips” comes from Google Assistant’s machine learning engine that will remember, learn and differentiate (a bit creepy) and then suggest the right information on the chat.

Chats on Allo can also be encrypted and like the incognito mode on Google’s Chrome browser you also get an incognito mode in chat with end-to end encryption.

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