NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden says that Google's new messaging app Allo is dangerous and to be avoided at all costs.
In a series of tweets, NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden offered a stern warning to any would-be users of Google’s new “smart” messaging app Allo. Snowden, who is currently in exile in Russia for exposing illegal NSA practices, said that Allo will record “every message you ever send and makes it available to police upon request.” Allo, aimed at replacing the popular messaging app Whatsapp, launched last week.
According to Google’s website, Allo can help you “make plans, find information, and express yourself more easily in chat.” Allo also claims to be able to predict your likely responses so you don’t have to type it yourself. According to Google, Allo’s predictive ability improves with frequent use: “The more you use it, the more it improves over time.” Essentially, Allo’s ability to self-improve is based on its mass collection and storage of your data and conversations so that an artificial intelligence can better guess your replies. Though this may be a more efficient option for some, Snowden warns that it comes at a great cost of the user’s privacy.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) 21 de septiembre de 2016
Snowden also pointed out that, last year, all 1,457 of NSA and FBI surveillance requests were approved by a secret court – the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). Your personal data stored on Allo will be subject to these requests from government agencies, as well as local police. Previously, when Allo was announced, it was presented as an app that took privacy seriously. Google originally said that Allo would offer an end-to-end encrypted option in its Incognito mode and transient message storing rather than storing messages indefinitely. Though Incognito mode is still available, the app in its current version stores all non-incognito messages by default. The user can delete each message one by one, but Google is still given default access to users’ complete conversation history. Whatsapp and Telegram, by contrast, keep your chats encrypted and unreadable until you delete them. However, some have questioned Whatsapp’s security as it is now owned by Facebook. Two years following their merger with the social media giant, Whatsapp announced this February that they will share your contacts and who you frequently talk to with Facebook and third-party corporations.
Though many people respond to the privacy debate by saying “I have nothing to hide,” the surveillance state exposed by Snowden and others is a blatant violation of Americans’ constitutional rights.
Considering the government’s response to Snowden’s revelations, it seems clear that they themselves are the ones hiding something. Also, you don’t need to have committed a crime to be on a watch list – many independent journalists and environmental activists who fight to expose wrong-doing are often placed on watch lists alongside potential and actual terrorists. Choosing to use Google’s Allo sends a clear message to the government and tech companies that these infringements of your rights are just fine, emboldening them to threaten and violate citizen’s rights even more. Considering the massive databases currently being built by the US government – which include millions of innocent Americans – do you really feel comfortable letting the establishment peer into your everyday conversations?
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