Admittedly, a chat service that stores your messages, analyzes them, and uses them to improve your experience, has some surface appeal. But for those interested in cybersecurity and online privacy, Google Allo is a bit of a nightmare.
Google’s Allo Unsafe, According to Snowden
Google recently released Allo, a messaging service that comes loaded up with emojis, stickers, and assorted doodling functions. Among its supposed virtues is that Allo stores user interactions, reportedly to improve user experience as the app learns more about you. In case that already doesn’t set off a few alarms in your head, allow Edward Snowden to explain the problem:
“What is #Allo? A Google app that records every message you ever send and makes it available to police upon request.”
Remember that big flap earlier this year between Apple and the FBI? At the same time Apple is taking a stand against the FBI’s right to access private user information, Google is letting the authorities right in the door.
Snowden’s advice appears to have fallen on deaf ears, since 1-5 million users have already downloaded Allo. And, in Google’s defense, Allo users can erase their own messages if they so desire. In addition, users do have the ability to turn on end-to-end encryption, using the “Incognito” mode. But encryption by default really should be the standard. Furthermore, the Incognito mode screws up a lot of the app’s top features.
So Should You Download Google’s Allo?
If online privacy/cybersecurity is a concern for you, even a minor one, FlashRouters advises you to not use Allo. If you don’t mind having your private conversations stored and potentially examined by the authorities, then download away.
It should be said, FlashRouters hopes you fall into the former category. From NSA spying to sinister Australian and Russian data retention laws, the normalization of private data storage concerns us. That’s why FlashRouters regularly advocates VPN usage, stronger passwords, and open source router firmware like DD-WRT and Tomato. Anything you can do to put impediments between you and invasive governments and hackers is a worthwhile endeavor.
FlashRouters understands that Google’s Allo, with its AI assistant, could be majorly tempting. That said, if you’re in need of a messaging service, you’re better off sticking with WhatsApp and their end-to-end encryption. And if you’re in a country that has to deal with WhatsApp blocks, check out these top VPNs. Even if you’re in a country with frequent blocks (like Brazil), they will keep your WhatsApp service flowing.