Edward Snowden not a fan of Allo, dubs it "Google Surveillance"

Edward Snowden not a fan of Allo, dubs it
Having first announced its Allo instant messaging service back at the I/O developers conference earlier this year, Google has finally begun to roll it out. As discussed in our review, we're not overly impressed with it, while the majority of our wonderful readers have given the app a collective "meh". Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor and perhaps the world's best known whistleblower, has quite a simple assessment of Allo: delete it from your smartphone and never touch it again. 

Via his Twitter page, Snowden has urged users to steer clear of the chat app, which he's dubbed as "Google Surveillance". Back when it launched the service along with the Duo video chat app back at I/O, Google assured the world that Allo would only store data "transiently," meaning your chat logs would not be held on Google's servers indefinitely. Google also indicated that any data collected would be anonymous, so could not be traced back to its originator. All well and good, we thought. Allo might actually be a real boon for consumer privacy, we thought.


However, the new artificial intelligence-powered Assistant feature needs to read your messages in order to be artificially intelligent. If Assistant is reading them, that means Google can read them, which also means law enforcement or anyone with a warrant -- such as, incidentally, the NSA -- can have a good sift through the information you feed to Allo.

Sure, Allo is not especially worse than other chat apps in how it handles data. Content is transmitted over HTTPS secure connection, which means hackers probably won't be able to get in on your stuff. But to Google, as well as those aforementioned government agencies, your private data is essentially an open book. 

As Snowden adds, it's relatively easy for government agencies to gain a subpoena to retrieve your info should they see fit. Additionally, the way information is stored means its easily traceable back to the user. Of course, Allo does include Incognito Mode, which utilizes similar encryption methods to the Snowden-advocated Signal app. But by default, it doesn't, leading Snowden to conclude that as an overall product, Allo is not a privacy risk worth taking. 

Do you agree? Let us know what you make of Snowden's comments below.

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33 Comments

1. ikenvape

Posts: 308; Member since: May 28, 2014

This is just one of many methods the US observes us with. Nothing we can do about save for laying back and accepting it.

7. TerryTerius unregistered

I find it difficult to believe that you honestly think the US is the only government that is surveilling you. But no, we can vote with our dollars, and actually you know... talk to our representatives by contacting them. Instead of throwing our hands up and absolving ourselves of responsibility.

11. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Quote: "...talk to our representatives by contacting them" What good will that bring? Doesn't look like they could care any less, when most of them are on a payroll.

16. TerryTerius unregistered

If people choose to not vote someone out of office, that is on them. But generally speaking actually calling and talking to your representatives can make change. One of the biggest reasons that the NRA is so powerful it is because they mobilize their membership to get riled up over everything and throw rallies, and talk to senators. Reps don't pay that much attention to tweets, but they do pay attention at the Townhall meetings and phone calls. Like I said, absolving yourself of responsibility is not an answer. Throwing our hands up in the air and saying that we have no say in the way government is ran only ensures that those in power stay there.

24. zeeBomb

Posts: 2318; Member since: Aug 14, 2014

The SMS thing it's even complicated.

25. lyndon420

Posts: 6737; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Can't get away with privacy nowadays no matter how hard we try. But Snowden is making a big deal because Allo's encryption isn't turned on by default... "Of course, Allo does include Incognito Mode, which utilizes similar encryption methods to the Snowden-advocated Signal app..."

2. Martineverest

Posts: 521; Member since: Oct 27, 2015

i will keep saying it:google's love for anti-privacy and data is her major 'frankestein monster'...they are lucky that they ve gained ground on search,smartphones etc otherwise,people would shun their services,as the world is becoming conscious of their privacy

8. TerryTerius unregistered

I am really, really curious as to whether or not that last part is actually true. I wonder how many people truly do care about their privacy, and do something about it.... And how many just say they do, shrug their shoulders, and go back to the same services.

23. sgodsell

Posts: 7209; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Martineverest and TerryTerius if you honestly think that both Microsoft and Apple don't look at others messages or if you think for one moment that they cannot see what users do or install on their systems. Then you really are idiots. Not to mention the government and router companies can reroute Internet traffic as well. So it's like a no win situation. The only OS's that have any hint of control are FreeBSD, and some versions of Linux. But you need a lot of knowledge to lock them down and control what they can and cannot do. If you want to browse the internet then you should use a VM that is read only.

27. TerryTerius unregistered

What are you talking about? Who said anything even close to that? My question was about whether or not people were truly becoming conscious of their privacy, or if most people were shrugging it off. I didn't say a single word about any company/governmental agency, or who was looking at what. Honestly don't even know where you got that from.

3. Martineverest

Posts: 521; Member since: Oct 27, 2015

if google keep meddling into people's privacy,they wouldnt be able to expand....their future will be in jeopardy if they dont change

9. TerryTerius unregistered

I wonder if that's true. Or rather, I wonder how possible privacy will actually be as we begin the shift towards AI and personalized services.

14. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1377; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

You can b*tch about privacy all you want, but the majority of all smartphone users readily share every bit of their lives on social media, so how much privacy is there left to meddle with? Personally I feel Google tries to be more transparant in how they use the data, than for example Apple who's personal assistent has about the same capabilities as Google Now, but offers no insight into it whatsoever. In truth they're no better if not potentially worse than Google and Microsoft, they claim to be better but in reality do the exact same thing. It's all about appearances.

26. lyndon420

Posts: 6737; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Good point. The ground border guards are asking for emails and Facebook info now, and if you don't provide it you could be flagged as a dissident or terrorist.

4. RoboticEngi

Posts: 1251; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

Who gives a s**t about Snowden. He is just someone you cannot trust....

5. Martineverest

Posts: 521; Member since: Oct 27, 2015

i dont even trust u either

6. Scott93274

Posts: 6032; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Great! Now the government has me confessing to my friend that I mistook the laundry basket for the toilet the other night when I came home plastered and crapped all over my wife's unmentionables. My life is ruined and it's all because of a smartphone app! /s

10. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1377; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

Edward Snowden, the biggest lie of the 21st century, fabricated by the CIA.

12. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

I agree, and that's part of why I'll be using it as much as I did Hangouts; NEVER.

13. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Google or Snowden...? Not sure in who to believe.

21. Blazers

Posts: 733; Member since: Dec 05, 2011

Google (along with Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple) are working with the globalists to divide and destroy nations. I would trust Snowden any day over these Soros-led scumbags.

15. truthwins unregistered

Blackberry should use this as a marketing thing to promote their blackberry 10 os

29. Gadgetex

Posts: 194; Member since: Nov 10, 2013

Blackberry must be happy over this one

17. mbp432

Posts: 50; Member since: Nov 13, 2014

We would need to live like the Amish or in the middle of nowhere if you wouldn't want anybody tracking you. Good luck

18. Kdk2020

Posts: 40; Member since: Apr 27, 2016

No big deal on privacy to me. Unless you are doing something illegal. Google makes things as private as they should be. #myopinion

19. Kdk2020

Posts: 40; Member since: Apr 27, 2016

No big deal on privacy to me. Unless you are doing something illegal. Google makes things as private as they should be. #myopinion

20. TheOracle1

Posts: 2213; Member since: May 04, 2015

How come Snowden is the go to guy on all this? There's no one else in the web community with credibility because of a low level nsa guy that leaked info? Nah, his 15 minutes of fame is up.

22. noospic

Posts: 12; Member since: Aug 28, 2016

Let me guess you're american?

31. TheOracle1

Posts: 2213; Member since: May 04, 2015

Nope!

28. Gadgetex

Posts: 194; Member since: Nov 10, 2013

Do not blame Snowden.. He is right about what he said

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