Google Allo's end-to-end encryption suspect, don't use it: Snowden

Allo, Google's latest messaging platform, is yet to reach phone users but it seems Google has some answering to do before the app goes public.

Popular whistle-blower Edward Snowden said on Twitter last night that messages on Allo not being encrypted by default was a matter of concern at a time when other platforms like WhatsApp and iMessage are fully encrypted.

Snowden added that even though end-to-end encryption is an option on Allo, the fact that it isn't set by default makes it unsafe and dangerous. Snowden has asked Android phone users to shun Allo for now.

Launched in orr to compete with WhatsApp and other messaging apps while being perched on Google's all-encompassing Android operating system as a default app (probably), Allo will come with a range of features to let you chat with your friends in different ways, share images with catchy captions and use the app to search for and find any information you are looking for. For example, if you ask if it your flight got delayed, it'll share the status of your booked flights instantly.

Thanks to an intelligent AI within Allo, you'll be able to reply to messages from friends by choosing from options like 'Hey,' 'haha' 'aww so cute' and others based on the kind of questions that are being put to you. This is done by a built-in Smart Reply feature which adapts to your preferences and matures overtime to suit itself with your personality.  However, we won't be sure about how effective it is until we get to try it out in real time. Allo will also let you write notes on images that you send to your friends. You will also be able to choose the sizes of your texts and since Allo works with your phonebook, you'll be able to message anyone whose details are in your contacts list.

The fact that Edward Snowden doesn't think highly of Allo isn't because he has a personal vendetta with Google. In fact, Snowden has long campaigned for end-to-end encryption in messaging and data sharing platforms and until recently, WhatsApp was his favourite punhing bag. Snowden also threw his lot behind Apple in the Cupertino giant's much publicised battle with the FBI on encryption standards and user privacy.

When WhatsApp finally introduced end-to-end encryption for all messages sent and received by its billion-plus users, Snowden gave the credit where it was due. Citing the use of WhatsApp by the authorities to save lives during the terrorist attack in Brussels, Snowden famously commented that "Encryption save lives: When emergency network failed during #BrusselsAttack, police/medics shifted to @WhatsApp."

If Google introduces end-to-end encryption on Allo as a default and permanent feature, we expect Snowden to, like he did in the case of WhatsApp, show a change of heart. Until then, it seems, he's ready for battle.

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