Thursday 22 September 2016

Careful Using Google's Allo Chat App

Normally I write about cool technology for you to use at home, but today it's going to be the opposite. I'm going to post about an app I suggest you don't use.

The number of chat apps out there is huge and constantly growing. Some people are die-hard Hangouts fans, others love Snapchat or Whatsapp, but with all the information we put in to our chats did you ever stop to consider privacy?

Google's upcoming chat app Allo is an example of trading convenience for privacy. The app claims to learn your style over time and be able to suggest entire message responses for you.

Wait, it's going to learn this over time? How?

To answer that question I'll refer back to some information Edward Snowden pointed out. Google is going to store all of your chats on it's systems indefinitely.

Ok, beyond the creepy factor, I just don't want Google knowing absolutely everything about me and the people I chat with, then monetizing that information.

Of course all your chats could also be requested by law enforcement or other entities with a subpoena, but I'm more concerned about an increase in targeted advertising and having that include my messaging app. I already get the occasional spam text, no need to invite more.

Let's go one step beyond for a moment. What happens when Google gets breached and has your chats stolen? Would you be ok with your chats being posted to the internet? I know a lot of people who would be either personally or professionally embarrassed if that were to happen.

Oh that won't happen, no one can break in to Google!

Right. The number of really large corporations that have been breached in recent years is staggering. Even the NSA can't keep their information secure. Why do we believe Google to be any more secure than the NSA?

If you're willing to purchase a new messaging app with your privacy as payment that's your option, but many people aren't aware of the possible ramifications.

Personally I'll be sticking with Signal. Not because there is anything to hide, I just don't need any more ads directed at me.

Happy surfing!

-The Home Geek

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