September 22 2016
Google’s new chat application will “record every message you ever send and make it available to police upon request,” said Snowden.
Whistleblower Edward Snowden appears via videolink | Photo: Reuters
U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden has criticized Google’s new messaging application, saying it is a breach of privacy and will track everything that users will say.
User data stored in Allo can easily be obtained
The technology giant launched its new so-called “smart chat” application, Allo, on Wednesday, promising more intelligent text conversation features, including auto-reply options.
Snowden, also a former CIA employee who is now living in exile in Russia, said via Twitter that Google’s application will “record every message you ever send and make it available to police upon request,” adding that Allo was “dangerous” while nicknaming the application “Google Surveillance.”
Snowden stressed that 100 percent of close to 1,500 surveillance requests were granted by the U.S. foreign intelligence court and that user data stored in Allo could easily be obtained too.
The application is intended to improve usability over time to make messaging quicker, including smart replies and assistance for quickly finding information in long message lists. However, there has been controversy over how the application stores the data and protects privacy.
Allo’s “incognito mode” was originally announced by Google to have encryption technology to secure privacy, but now it seems that all messages will be stored in the application. Snowden said that Allo was less safe for users than rival messaging applications WhatsApp and Signal.
Google has maintained the application will protect user privacy.
“We’ve given users transparency and control over their data in Google Allo… Your chat history is saved for you until you choose to delete it. You can delete single messages or entire conversations in Allo,” a Google spokesperson said.