Allo released worldwide yesterday becoming the first AI infused messaging app that uses machine learning to predict replies with impressive accuracy. But Google, after promising the app will keep privacy in mind has backtracked on it stating that the servers need to store data longer for the machine learning to work.
Now, champion of privacy Edward Snowden is warning users against downloading the Allo messaging app alleging the app to be the tool Google is using for mass surveillance. In a series of tweets posted last night, Snowden explained the privacy issues regarding the app.
As the app is powered by AI, it needs access to more information about the user to revert with intuitive and accurate replies. To make use of the smart reply feature of Allo, the app needs access to sensitive information to give relevant responses. And regarding this, Snowden points out that Google will keep a record of every word, image, location and other personal information that users share on the app.
The Verge reported yesterday the all information shared on the Allo app will now be accessible to lawful requests, similar to Gmail, Hangouts and location data collected by Google can be given to law enforcement authorities upon producing a warrant.
Allo will log all information, except those shared over the incognito mode to improve its AI assistance. This is opposed to Google’s earlier promise that data will only stored for a transient period of time and in non-identifiable form. But then Google backtracked and admitted it will be keeping all records until the user manually deletes them or use the incognito mode.
But all said and done, whatever data Allo will collect about you, chances are, Google already has a lot more information about you anyway. Just head to the ‘My Activity’ dashboard in your Google profile to check for yourself. The dashboard shows every location you have been, everything you have asked Google to search using your voice and text. So it would hardly matter anyway.
If you still aren’t convinced, Snowden says WhatsApp with its end-to-end encryption and private messaging app Signal are better alternative to protect yourself from Big Brother.