Allo new app, Goodbye privacy promise

Alphabet-owned technology giant Google this week announced Allo, a brand-new chat app for Android and iOS.

Allo allows users to “say more and do more right in your chats”. According to the Google Blog post about Allo (you can read it in full here), it can “help you make plans, find information, and express yourself more easily in chat”. Best of all, Allo learns your personal style and adapts more to your most common responses the more it is used. Sounds great, right?

Unfortunately not.

Before the app’s launch, Google promised conversations that took place within Allo would only be stored on Google’s servers temporarily. This promise meant that authorities’ access to the messages would be limited by whatever timespan Google define as “temporarily”.

A report from tech news site The Verge has revealed, however, that Google will retain Allo data indefinitely unless users specifically request to have it removed. Rather unsurprisingly, Google have not commented on the broken promise. Their support documents mention users can have their chat history wiped, but don’t mention data being removed automatically, as originally promised.

Allo does include an Incognito Mode, which encrypts chats in a way that prevents both Google Assistant listening and the authorities being able to retrieve an unencrypted copy. However, Incognito Mode is not enabled by default.

It should come as no surprise Google will harvest information from you, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. It’s their stock-in-trade. But there are alternatives. Choose a secure mobile messaging app that works on Android, iOS and BlackBerry10. Choose military-grade message encryption that still allows you to make plans or share photos.

Get a BlackBerry. Get BBM.

Allo app screenshots

Jon Hunnings

(Step-)father & husband. I code directly on my #BlackBerry devices, in between blogs! Contact me via Twitter: @BrizBerryDevs or via email: brizberrydevs@utbblogs.com

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