So Allo is here, with a bang. And Snowden is not happy about it.
It has crossed 5 million downloads and has the entire technology world swooning over it. Loaded with a ton of cool features, (our in-house Liv’ED expert Cherryy reviews it here) it is set on taking over Whats App and iMessage as the iOS and Android consumers go-to choice for Instant Messaging.
Also, Facebook messenger doesn’t feel very threatened and nobody cares about Windows users. I am being random right here, but it was begging to be pointed out.
Everybody loves a good controversy, and everything sparkly inevitably comes with some shade. Allo, the case in question, compromises on your data security. While it promised to up its security game by providing end-to-end encryption for the entire app, but it decided to bunk that privacy privilege in favor of its AI text-predictive assistant feature.
Basically the more data the AI has access to, the better chances to give accurate predictions. The data is stored indefinitely, till the user wipes it off the server voluntarily. I guess, the AI is defunct then. Just like in the incognito mode, where Allo basically becomes sh-Allo-w.
That is some MAJOR shade for Google, since expectations run super high…
I hope you understand that simply means two things:
– Big brother is watching you through encrypted lens.
– Edward Snowden is not too happy about this app.
Naturally with true whistle blowing panache, Snowden tweeted,
People who have been follow tech news are probably much aware of this.
The cause of concern is that Allo is being alleged as having failed to provide end-to-end encryption which Gmail and Hangouts lacks anyways.
Why do we need encryption?
Seen Mark Zuckerberg’s photographs of the cold, cold storage where billions of gigabytes worth of encrypted information stored on them? What if all of it was to come out one day?
I cannot imagine the chaos. And really, it won’t happen. But, on legal demand, most of this encrypted user data can availed by the law-enforcement through sub-peonas and warrants. For ‘legit’ reasons, you know. But the scary part is that, it can be availed. Someone can access the most private and intimate (yes, double emphasis) of your inner life, (read, triple) through a warrant.
What if someone issues a warrant for all the wrong reasons, legally?
The battle that Apple won against the FBI showed how these companies have to put the protection of their consumers on the forefront. The FBI did not benefit anything from the million dollar hack it purchased to unlock an iPhone, but Apple stood by the principles of its technology: when they say it’s private, it is indeed private. Criminal or not.
Any criminal mind will delete any digital evidence they are leaving behind anyway.
So, with Allo disappointedly failing to provide with the privacy feature its pre-release hype was banking on, we catch an often hushed-up glimpse of the gaping hole in our digital privacy. I don’t doubt, really nobody can doubt, Google commitment to its consumer welfare, but to what end?
Judging by Snowden’s plight, I can vouch about the fact that he has no profit in going against a bigwig like Goggle. If he is recommending against its usage, there must be some serious area of concern regarding the popularity and usage of this app.
Should we really be scared?
Don’t dump your phone in a bucket of water just yet. You can always delete your convos from the server, and really nobody is chasing everyone with a warrant.
The concern rather is that if the company concedes to one demand for whatever is the reason, it symbolically compromises with the integrity of the whole set up. There will soon be unreasonable demands, and even from unreasonable governments.
Now that the agenda of the surveillance is well out in the open, think about it. What are you posting online? What are your texting habits? How frequently should you be wiping clean your server data?
Let this make a case for your personal internet habits, rather than stop you from enjoying a perfectly cool, new-school app.
My conclusion would be this…
While Allo is made to feel like the future is in your hands, how lazy can people be that they need someone else to type out their texts for them? AI never rubbed on me the right way, even though I am no Stephen Hawking. Maybe I am too old-school, but a chatbot feels like a third person, in what is supposed to be a two-person thing.
With automated responses, like ‘ttyl’, are often on stand-by anyway, I don’t need anyone predicting my ‘Hahaha’ just yet.
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.