(TFTP) Unless you want law enforcement to be able to trawl all your communications, don’t — under any circumstances — use Google’s newest messaging app, Allo, Edward Snowden just warned.
“What is #Allo? A Google app that records every message you ever send and makes it available to police upon request,” the whistleblower advised in a tweet.
What is #Allo? A Google app that records every message you ever send and makes it available to police upon request. https://t.co/EdPRC0G7Py
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 21, 2016
Google had earlier claimed it would include end-to-end encryption, “storing messages transiently and in non-identifiable form,” similar to its prospective primary competitor, WhatsApp. However, the company announced drastic anti-privacy changes on Wednesday — the very day it rolled out the app.
When users remember to begin a conversation in “Incognito Mode,” as can be done for Google searches, their conversations won’t be stored indefinitely, as it still provides end-to-end encryption. But conversations not expressly begun that way will be stored forever, where they would be available for any law enforcement body requesting the information.
As Snowden pointed out, anyone thinking it would be difficult for police or, say, the Department of Homeland Security, or National Security Agency to get their hands on these communications should think otherwise.
Thinking about #Allo? Last year, our secret court approved 100% of requests for surveillance. They would cover Allo. https://t.co/oYtc3Pu8tx
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) September 21, 2016
In 2015, the Guardian reported this April, the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) — the secret court ostensibly overseeing domestic spying, which rules on the validity of requests by the FBI and other agencies to gain access to people’s data — did not turn down a single request of nearly 1,500.
“The court received 1,457 requests last year on behalf of the National Security Agency and FBI for authority to intercept communications, including email and phone calls, according to a Justice Department memo […] The court did not reject any of the applications in whole or in part, the memo said,” according to the Guardian.
Included with Allo, users receive an extra helping of Big Brother — features like “Smart Reply” and “Google Assistant.” While the latter “answers questions and helps you search for things directly in your chat,” as RT reports, the former employs artificial intelligence in order to predict answers to make responding as simple as pressing a button.
However, therein lies part of the privacy concern — that convenience comes with an asterisk in bold.
“How does Allo plan on predicting your every word and witty emoji, you ask? ‘The more you use it, the more it improves over time,’ which basically means they’ll collect and store as much of your data as possible and then use artificial intelligence to guess your replies,” Zero Hedge writes.
As The Verge reported last week, Google opted to forego (our already ever-dwindling) privacy in favor of improving the Smart Reply feature, since artificial intelligence perform better when it has more data at its disposal.
And that, of course, is key to Snowden’s and privacy advocates’ concerns. The more data Google collects, the more would be available to the increasingly erratic and paranoid government that would otherwise have you believe you have nothing to worry about if you’ve done nothing wrong.
Just because you aren’t engaged in criminal activity or planning a terrorist attack doesn’t mean the government wouldn’t love to know everything about you. Environmental activists, for one of many examples, are considered in the State’s notoriously-inclusive watchlists to be as dangerous as radicals fighting for the Islamic State.
Even those who don’t consider themselves politically or otherwise active might want to consider whose eyes are peering into their lives. It’s doubtful anyone would invite a Google techie or a cop to physically sit and watch everything they do — but if you plan to use Allo, in essence, that’s precisely what you’re doing.
This article (Edward Snowden Just Warned Everyone Not to Use Google’s New Messaging App) by Claire Bernish originally appeared on TheFreeThoughtProject.com and is licensed Creative Commons. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/Freedom of the Press Foundation.
Strange warning? Did people not already learn to expect that anything you transmit through services from Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple is something the police can get hold of, with the proper reasons to ask for it? Or in some cases without any good reason.
If you want to communicate and share critical and sensitive information that the NSA, CIA, FBI, Police and so on should not be able to see, you ought to know you need to use something more secure with a more custom security protocol.
Like a mouth, hands or eyes. Carrier pigeon, two tins cans and a piece of string. Etc
or use a mixr
I’ve lived as if I’ve been being watched since I was a teenager. The key is to openly call them out and insult them at random points through your conversation. Makes it a great laugh for yourself and the morons listening can’t do squat about it. Don’t be so afraid of the government, they are incapable T-words.
@ RoT: Don’t do that. I did that once at the ATM machine. I sticked my tongue out to the cam above it, just to insult Big Brother. Result: no 90 bucks out of the machine, but it was gone from my account. Don’t do it, cause they get you back in their spare time. (twilight tune)
But it doesn’t matter if the spy you or not, I’m happy knowing that someone is just watching me, it only gives me pleasure knowing what that person is thinking. And if you don’t do anything that is wrong, you don’t have to worry.
Be more smart, please