Edward Snowden not a fan of Allo, dubs it "Google Surveillance"
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.
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.
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.
Allo's Assistant feature collects a lot of data
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.